April in Austin packs quite a punch when it comes to the fashion calendar because there’s no shortage of events to attend. One headlining fashion event that combines fashion and philanthropy in a big way is the annual MJ&M fashion show where a top fashion name presents their collection to a sold-out and capacity crowd of attendees.
The MJ&M event packs a weekend of golf, music and of course, fashion and has raised much-needed funds for children’s charities since 2013, with this year raising more than $2.25 million dollars. The programs have not changed that much through the years, but they are evolving as the kids grow with confidence and life skills. The benefiting charities, focusing on kids’ education, health, and wellness, include CureDuchenne, Dell Children’s Medical Center, HeartGift, just keep livin Foundation and The Rise School of Austin.
For the 2018 fashion event, Stacey Bendet, from the popular fashion brand Alice + Olivia, made her Austin debut thanks to the invitation of Austin’s Camila Alves, wife of Matthew McConaughey (one of the “M’s in MJ&M…Mack Brown and Jack Ingram are the others). The event previously brought headlining fashion designer names to Austin such as Badgley Mischka, Michelle Smith of MILLY, and last year, Jason Wu. And this year Alves wanted to bring a different fashion vibe to the show and Bendet agreed. “I love her designs! They’re very playful and colorful,” said Alves.
Bendet, a big children’s philanthropist herself, did not think twice about accepting Alves’ invitation to Austin for her first time. “I like things that incorporate children into my work,” said Bendet.
The Alice + Olivia brand, named for the two founders’ mothers’ names, was true to Stacey’s love of art with a pop-up shop area installed for shopping all alongside a wall of shelves full of colorful junk food such as, Doritos, Cheerios and Froot Loops which had an Andy Warhol feel of colorful quirkiness. Very cohesive and fitting for the featured designer’s aesthetic and a big clue for what was about to hit the runway.
“I always start with color and what are my favorite colors this season and then I kinda go from there,” said Benet. Next comes the theme she wants to incorporate, then the selection of various prints, which for Spring 2018 range from big florals, tropical banana leaves mixed with 70’s inspired flared jeans with enough embroidery on them to make any hippie chic chick happy. “I’m always inspired by art and flowers and colorful feminine things and that’s really how I start,” said Bendet.
The models, including Bendet’s daughter, strutted down the U-shaped, yellow patented leather runway inside the JW Marriott ballroom. Ruffles were shown on asymmetrical skirts, as well as flouncy and very flowy cold-shoulder tops and a structured cream pantsuit trouser had ruffles cascading down the side of each leg. Soft bohemian romantic looks mixed with rocker-chic t-shirts paired with python skirts and a fabulous sequined biker-style jacket were a few highlights.
If you’re a big A+O fan, Bendet mentioned she would like to open a store in Austin, and we’ll keep you posted.
You can purchase the Alice + Olivia collection at Neiman Marcus / Domain.