SANTA ROSA BEACH- Local designers are busy preparing for the first ever South Walton Fashion Week coming up in October. Organizers say the multi-day event will put the Emerald Coast on the map in the fashion world. Two rising stars, who've chosen to make South Walton the place they live and work, have key roles in the event.
Incredible success has come quickly for designer Stephanie Carter. Stephanie launched her first line, Judith March, in 2009. "I threw 22,648 garments into production not knowing if they would sell or not. January 2010 was our first show in New York, and then we went onto Atlanta, Dallas and Vegas," explained Stephanie. Today her designs are available in 1200 retail locations.
While you've probably heard of her DeJaVu boutiques, two are local, in Pier Park and Seaside, what you might not realize: her Southern Fashion House headquarters are here in Northwest Florida, in Santa Rosa Beach. "It's kind of like a big hen house, 87 women and 1 man. We house it here on Highway 393 and disburse all the clothing to all the stores. So this is our Southern Fashion House which houses DeJaVu, Judith March, and Jacque & Janice. And future brands that are coming up that are very exciting," said Stephanie.
For the first time Stephanie will be able to showcase her designs on a local runway. "We are so excited about South Walton Fashion Week. We are one of the exclusive runway show designers. It's nice to be able to be here and design things that represent the area and that you see and sell all over the United States, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Canada and Australia," said Stephanie.
Just a few miles down the road Nicole Paloma Rockhill is getting ready to launch into the couture arena from the South Walton Fashion Week runway. "I love textures, I use a lot of absence of color," explained Nicole. "Because my design studio is here in the store I love to hear what women have to say about their body and take that into account. To be able to flatter someone and make them feel beautiful... that is what it is all about," she said.
All of Nicole's designs are hand sewn. "It's my therapy, my passion, my love," said Nicole. "This community has embraced me and given me an opportunity that I could never be where I am now without it.
South Walton Fashion Week benefits the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County. The main events begin on October 11th through the 13th in Grand Boulevard's Town Center at Sandestin. Click on the link for a schedule and ticket information.