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Elizabeth Wolfe

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This free-spirited Athens label makes clothing meant to be lived in

State the Label
On Peggy (right): cuff tee, $140, dress, $220, State the Label. On Andrea (left): polka-dot top, $120, swing skirt, $280.

Photograph by Cori Carter; Models: Peggy Zephirin and Andrea Demarcus

Since founding her brand State the Label in 2010, designer Adrienne Antonson has created free-spirited handmade clothing that is meant to be well-lived in. Think overalls, swing skirts, loose-fitting pants, and smocks. Her handpainted and locally sewn adult and children’s designs are made from natural fibers like organic cotton and linen. Priced from $24 to $375, State pieces feature fabulously big pockets, bold stripes, polka dots, and splatters and patterns that loosely mimic lichen and marble.

Last year, Antonson moved her family from Thomson, Georgia, to Winterville, settling closer to her employees in a community she says is perfect for raising a family. Then, in May, she unveiled a brick-and-mortar storefront in nearby Athens, conceived as a place where people can shop the collection in person (previously, it was available only online) while also browsing lifestyle goods curated by the State team. Shoppers are welcome to peek into the attached, sunlit studio, where they might see Antonson painting on fabric or her staff stitching a garment.

State the Label
State the Label

Photograph by Tucker Alford

In addition to one-of-a-kind State pieces and sale items that will never hit the website, the bright shop offers an eclectic collection of wares made by small local makers or brands Antonson loves, like ARQ undergarments or Baggu reusable totes.

“It’s the kind of place I would just be so excited if I went into,” Antonson says, “which is all we ever wanted to build: the store we dream of.”

State the Label
Shirt, $220, State the Label

Photograph by Cori Carter

Don’t bother looking for a rhyme or reason in the merchandise. Part of the fun is seeing what curiosities Antonson has selected for her customers. Think colorful ceramics, jewel-toned cardboard beetles ($17), polka-dot britches ($38), apothecary goods, neon ski caps ($18), and floor poufs made from fabric scraps ($240). statethelabel.com

Editor’s note: This story was written before the COVID-19 outbreak. Since then, Antonson has turned her brick-and-mortar store into a studio and is selling items online. She has also sold cloth face masks online and coordinated an effort to sew masks for local hospitals.

This article appears in our March 2020 issue.

Stuck on Valentine’s Day gift ideas? Here are a few you can buy in Atlanta.

Valentine's day gift guide Atlanta
Chocolates at Saint Germain Bakery at Ponce City Market

Photograph courtesy of Jamestown

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, but there’s no need to scour the internet for the perfect gift. Local sellers are bursting with thoughtful options for any type of date.

For partner who appreciates the classic Valentine’s gifts

Artisan Chocolate Heart Box ($24.95)
Saint Germain’s heart-shaped box of chocolates elevates the quintessential Valentine’s Day gesture. Saint Germain Bakery, Ponce City Market, 675 Ponce de Leon Avenue

Valentine's day gift guide Atlanta
Rosebud Brass Signet

Photograph courtesy of Young Blood

Rosebud Brass Signet ($88)
Engraved by hand, this slender signet ring is perfect for the person who loves a delicate, romantic touch. Signets are also available with tea leaf, crescent moon, sun, and lavender engravings. Young Blood Boutique, 632 N Highland Avenue Northeast

Fresh Flower Vase Arrangement ($48-$148)
Young Blood Boutique’s floral designers use local seasonal blooms to create custom elegant arrangements. Order fresh bouquets online or swing by the store to pick out a dried flower bouquet for a gift that will last long after the holiday is over. Young Blood Boutique, 632 N Highland Avenue Northeast

Lingerie shopping at La Perla
Find the perfect luxe lingerie set during a one-on-one consultation with La Perla associates while sipping a glass of complimentary champagne. Call the boutique to schedule an appointment, openings available until February 14. (404-816-6052) La Perla, 3060 Bolling Way Northeast

For the partner who prefers a low-key day at home

Valentine's day gift guide Atlanta
Rent a movie at Videodrome

Photograph courtesy of Videodrome

Videodrome Gift Card
Pick out a few nostalgic films at rental paradise Videodrome and head home for a romantic movie night. Bonus points if you swing by Fellini’s and grab a pizza for the ultimate night-in combo.

A stack of new books
Countless indie bookshops around town are filled to the brim with options and ready to help you find the perfect picks, including A Capella Books (208 Haralson Avenue Northeast), Charis Books and More (184 South Candler Street, Decatur), and Little Shop of Stories (133 East Court Square, Decatur).

Valentine's day gift guide Atlanta
Flora/Fauna

Photograph courtesy of Flora/Fauna

A vibrant houseplant
Not only will they brighten up your comfy space, but they’ll last way longer than a bouquet of roses. Flora/Fauna in Cabbagetown has plenty of offerings—from spilling vines to teensy succulents—plus collection of nice pots to house them in. Flora/Fauna, 751 Gaskill Street Southeast

For the partner who loves to entertain

Valentine's day gift guide Atlanta
Mushi Nabe Donabe at East Fork

Photograph courtesy of East Fork

Mushi Nabe Donabe ($160)
An exciting addition to any home cook’s repertoire, this Japanese clay steaming pot has plenty of uses. Crafted by Nagatani-En Pottery in the Iga region of Japan, the nabe is a beautiful way to prepare steamed whole fish, dashi broth, or green tea cakes. East Fork, Westside Provisions District, 1170 Howell Mill Road

Valentine's day gift guide Atlanta
Learn to craft cocktails like a pro.

Photograph courtesy of Four Seasons Atlanta

Cocktail Class at Bar Margot ($45)
Enjoy cocktails and light bites with your date while learning how to mix craft drinks at the Four Seasons’s elegant cocktail lounge. Be sure to reserve your spot online. Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta, 75 14th Street

Donation to Giving Kitchen (Amount of Your Choice)
For the chef who has everything, opt instead for the charitable gift of giving back to the people that have made weeks, months, or years of gorgeous dinner dates possible. Donations support Giving Kitchen in giving financial assistance and community support to food service workers in crisis. Donate at thegivingkitchen.org.

For the adventure enthusiast

ClueTown Scavenger Hunt ($15)
Send yourselves on one of Clue Town’s ready-to-solve scavenger hunts around some of Atlanta’s most beloved landmarks. Pick from expeditions around the BeltLine, Decatur Square, Piedmont Park, Oakland Cemetery, and more. Little Shop of Stories, 133 East Court Square, Decatur; and Crafted, 1100 Howell Mill Road

Valentine's day gift guide Atlanta
Bacon bouquet

Photograph courtesy of Cacao

Bacon Bouquet ($22)
Nothing says “I love you” like . . . bacon? Five strips of candied maple bacon dipped in local chocolatier Cacao’s dark chocolate come together to make a tongue-in-cheek token of love. Cacao Atlanta Chocolate Company, 1046 North Highland Avenue Northeast

Monthly Rock Climbing Membership ($70)
Whether your partner is an excited newbie or a seasoned pro, Stone Summit’s climbing walls are a fun, nontraditional date night option. 715 Peachtree Street Northeast and 3701 Presidential Parkway

Porsche Driving Experience ($365-$975)
For a truly premium adventure, let your loved one revel in a few thrilling laps around Porsche’s state-of-the-art circuit, guided by a personalized driving coach. Porsche Experience Center, One Porsche Drive

For the arts and design lover
A night at the theater
Treat your admirer to dinner and a show. We suggest Tony Award-winning musical Fun Home at Actor’s Express (887 West Marietta Street Northwest) or True Colors Theatre Company’s School Girls (Southwest Arts Center, 915 New Hope Road)

Valentine's day gift guide Atlanta
Megan Huntz sweatshirt

Photograph courtesy of Megan Huntz

Fine Arts Sweatshirt ($80)
Atlanta designer Megan Huntz’s eco-fleece printed sweatshirt says all you need to know. Made ethically in the Domincan Republic and screen printed in Atlanta. Megan Huntz, 626 North Highland Avenue Northeast

Tickets to the Serenbe Architecture + Thoughtful Design Tour (Free!)
Busy on Valentine’s weekend? Shift the holiday and take a day trip down to Serenbe on February 22 to tour the town’s award-winning, sustainable homes and buildings. While you’re there, be sure to explore the community’s shops, restaurants, and indie bookshop Hills & Hamlets. Serenbe, 11090 Serenbe Lane

Tibi hosts a rare Atlanta sample sale just in time for the holidays

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Tibi Atlanta sample sale
This will be Tibi’s first sample sale in Atlanta

Photograph courtesy of Tibi

We must be in sample sale heaven. For the first time ever, New York-based Tibi will host a sample sale here in Atlanta. Designer and Georgia native Amy Smilovic has gained a strong following here for her tomboy glam fashions. And while her St. Simons outlet has long been a place to find Tibi discounts, this sale will be the first time Atlanta fans can purchase pieces from previous seasons and samples in person without driving to the coast. (Tibi sample sales are extremely rare outside of NYC—the only other was held in Connecticut about five years ago.)

The “Shop the Drop” sale coincides with the Shops’s Holiday Block Party on Saturday, December 14, where shoppers can expect a lineup of festive in-store events and restaurant specials, including more sales, live entertainment, adorable pet portraits, and more. And to add to the fun, Atlanta designer Abbey Glass will also be hosting a sample sale there, giving shoppers the perfect opportunity to find deeply discounted, fashionable finds just in time for the holidays.

Here’s what you need to know about the designers and the sales:

Tibi Atlanta sample sale
Tibi

Photograph courtesy of Tibi

Tibi
Though based in New York, the Atlanta style scene can proudly claim Smilovic, Tibi’s founder and designer who grew up in St. Simons and graduated from UGA in 1989. When she launched Tibi in 1997, Athens boutique Heery’s was to first retailer to sell her designs. She opened her St. Simons store in 1998. (The brand’s flagship store is in New York.)

Tibi Atlanta sample sale
Tibi

Photograph courtesy of Tibi

Tibi Atlanta sample sale
Tibi

Photograph courtesy of Tibi

While the brand started with preppier, trend-driven pieces, in more recent years it has become “more of a lifestyle brand,” Smilovic said in a 2015 Atlanta interview. “When you’re about trends, you don’t really have a heart to it. You don’t have a clear identity. And so I really wanted to make the brand about the style that I was passionate about.” Now, the brand’s modern, casual-yet-elegant repertoire runs the gamut from classic pieces like sculpted blazers to playful fluffy magenta sandals.

At the sale, shoppers will find ready-to-wear clothing and accessories, as well as a few special runway pieces. Be sure to come prepared, though. All sales are final and must be made with a credit card.

When to shop:
Tuesday, December 10 through Saturday, December 14:
10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Sunday, December 15: 12-6 p.m.
Monday, December 16 through Wednesday, December 18: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Where to go:
The Shops Buckhead Atlanta
Suite B200
3035 Peachtree Road
Atlanta, GA 30305

Abbey Glass
This Atlanta-based designer will be serving up an array of sips and treats while customers shop fantastic finds at up to an 80 percent discount. The designer’s Southern-inspired styles infused with a contemporary twist will start at $35 during the sale.

“Our clothing is designed right here in Atlanta and goes through many stages of development before it’s perfect and ready to be manufactured and delivered to our customers,” Glass said.

“You can expect to find one-of-a-kind samples that didn’t make the cut,” she said. The designer also said the sale will include design samples that never made it to the final racks. This means you could pick up an early piece of Abbey Glass’s creative process that was never sold in stores.

The sale will also include Spring 2019 and Fall 2018 pieces that are in the final few.

As a final gift to shoppers, the shop is giving 20 percent off all store purchases through the sale dates. Don’t stress if you aren’t able to get to the store this weekend. Abbey Glass is also offering 20 percent off sale items online with the code SAMPLE20.

When to shop:
Friday, December 13 and Saturday, December 14:
10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sunday, December 15: 12-6 p.m.

Where to go:
Abbey Glass at the Shops at Buckhead Atlanta
3006 Bolling Way Northeast
Atlanta, GA 30305

Atlanta newcomer Whiz Socks offers wearable art that gives back

Whiz Socks Atlanta
A pair of Jake Llaurado-designed Whiz Socks

Photograph courtesy of Whiz Socks

While the banality of receiving socks as a gift has been the punchline of many holiday jokes, there are many Atlantans for whom socks are not something to be taken for granted. In 2018, a little over 700 homeless Atlantans were without shelter on any given night, according to a recent Point-In-Time count from Atlanta nonprofit Partners for Home.

Addressing the challenge of homelessness can be a sobering experience, but the co-founders of Atlanta-based Whiz Socks have found a creative and colorful way to give back. The fledgling sock company pairs with artists to create uplifting sock designs to live up to their slogan, “Be Inspired.” For every pair bought, Whiz Socks donates a pair to a homeless person or shelter.

Co-founders Alex Miranda, Leo Rodriguez, and John Peña founded the company in August 2018. According to Peña, Whiz Socks grew out of a mutual desire to make a living doing something meaningful. The Whiz Socks team has donated socks to Atlanta Mission and also takes to the street to hand-deliver their donations to those who need them.

Whiz Socks Atlanta
A pair of Yoyo Ferro-designed socks

Photograph courtesy of Whiz Socks

Their approach to community outreach has gained them collaborations with local artists Yoyo Ferro and Jake Llaurado, both of which have livened the walls of Atlanta with vibrant murals. Both artists have created their own lines of socks which are available on the Whiz Socks website. The playful lines and whimsical abstractions signature to Ferro’s work are matched by the colorful energy of Llaurado’s own wiggling banana leaves and signature “Funky Buddha.”

Whiz Socks Atlanta
A pair of Yoyo Ferro-designed socks

Photograph courtesy of Whiz Socks

The humanitarian mission, comfort, and quality of the socks make the $13 price tag a little more bearable. I was doubtful of Whiz Socks’s one-size-fits-most sizing, but through a footwear miracle, they fit both my women’s size 7.5 feet and my significant other’s men’s size 10.5 feet, while also providing soft arch support and breathability. The mostly-cotton socks have a reinforced sole, giving them the durability and padding.

Q&A: Poet Jericho Brown on Atlanta’s poetry community, black masculinity, and the politics of love

Poet Jericho Brown
Jericho Brown

Photograph by Stephanie Mitchell

Born in Louisiana, Jericho Brown is now an associate professor and director of the creative writing program at Emory University. His poems have appeared in the Paris Review, Time, the New Yorker, and the New York Times, among others. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and the National Endowment for the Arts. His first book, Please (2008), was awarded the American Book Award, and his second book, The New Testament (2014), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. He’s currently on tour promoting of his most recent collection of poetry, The Tradition (2019), attempting to (as Brown says) “take the book around the sun.” He’ll give a reading in Atlanta this weekend at the Decatur Book Festival.

Brown’s poetry allows him to shore up the delicacies of love with the inescapable terror of existing as a gay, black man in the South. His ability to harness traditions, history, and myth to bring clarity to the violence and trauma inflicted upon his many subject positions has allowed him to emerge as one of Atlanta’s most prominent poets.

For a brief hiatus in his tour schedule, Brown returned to his Atlanta home, where we sat across from the picture window in his sunlit front room—the place where he often sits on quiet mornings to read, write, and watch the rabbits gather on the front lawn.

The concept of home is undeniably present in most of your poems. What and where is home for you?
Right now, it’s right here. I have a library downstairs where I can get a lot of reading and work done. So I always feel like I’m trying to get back to here so I can sit comfortably and learn to properly take care of myself—and properly waste my time, and properly do stuff [impulsively]. Because you can’t really live your life like that on the road, or even at the university where I work.

What does the Atlanta poetry community look like in your eyes?
It’s changing so much. Katie Farris and Ilya Kaminsky moved here recently and they’re teaching at Georgia Tech, and Beth Gylys, who’s a great poet, is over at Georgia State now. [Emory] just hired two new poets: Robyn Schiff and Heather Christle. But, you know, beyond the academics, there is a huge scene in Atlanta in terms of all kinds of genres of poetry—Collin Kelly, Teresa Davis. I would like for my involvement in [the Atlanta scene] to be more regular than it has been. I think now that this book has come out, I’ll be able to be more a part of it.

Why do you do what you do?
The more I do it, the more it’s really completely selfish, to be quite honest with you. For me, it’s become part of my self care, part of me being able to live in this country. It’s how I talk to myself. It’s partially how I pray. Being able to work on poems helps me walk around in the world. Being honest with myself in this room helps me deal with what I have to deal with in other rooms where I’m asked not to be honest. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.

I know I’ve been changed by people’s poems, so I know there’s a possibility for people to be changed by my poems. I know that could happen, but I can’t write trying to make that happen. I don’t know what the magic is that makes that happen. I only know the magic that I can do to myself. I can do some self-sorcery.

So my job, then, is to write the best poems that I can write. Then, because I want to participate in the conversation, and because I love poetry so much, I put those poems in the world for people do with whatever they want. But once I put them in the world, my hands are off; I can’t monitor them. You have to let the poems go and really compartmentalize.

Throughout your work, love, power, and violence all intertwine. Do you see love as a political act?
There’s very little I don’t see as a political act. But I think choosing to experience love in the face of so much normalized evil is actually amazing. I don’t think it’s just political; I think it’s pretty radical. Everything about our world is trying to lead us against [love], trying to make us more and more numb to it. It’s very difficult to be vulnerable and to be intimate, and I think more difficult now. It’s sort of a purposeful thing. People laugh at you if you’re caught being vulnerable, but in actuality, I think it’s the only the only way to ever make a connection with folks.

Many of your poems lend an often ignored delicacy and fragility to black men. Why have you chosen to present black masculinity in this way?
I think media, social media, and television give us the wrong ideas over and over again about who we really are. I come from a family where generation after generation, we, for the sake of beauty, tended our houses, our land, our lawns, our flower beds. There were gardens in the backyard where you grew greens, beans, tomatoes, and potatoes, but in the front yard, you had a flower bed for no reason other than the fact that it was beautiful. Those are the kinds of things we don’t know or see about each other, particularly when we think about black men.

That’s who my dad was. He was also a lot of awful, but I have to remember that he taught me that. I can share that feeling with him now because I have a yard; I didn’t understand it before. I remember turning the corner to our house when I was a kid, entering the driveway, and hearing him say, “Ooh that’s pretty.” [There was a sense of] pride because the yard looked nice. I got to see something in him that isn’t what people automatically think about him when they simply think of his image.

This is why I’m interested in this thing called masculinity. I’m interested in the fact that it could exist, but in our minds, in our perceptions, we keep leaving stuff out of it. People have to fall in love. People have to take care of their kids. I want to make sure men know it’s possible for them to have feelings and that those feelings are okay to have. I think our world would have us believe they’re not okay to have.

Your poems are often about difficult and highly politicized parts of your experience as a black, gay, Southern man, but they are simultaneously celebratory and joyful. How do you find that meeting place between terror and joy in your work?
Well, it’s just my life, isn’t it? I’m from Louisiana, which is where you learn to party if you really want to. I am gay and we do have a good time, and I am black and don’t nobody sing and dance like us. At the same time, having all of those identities in a single body means bombardment from people you share identities with.

[The terror and joy] are both there, but I think they’re both there for everybody. I just get the opportunity to see it. W.E.B. Du Bois talked about this when he talked about double consciousness; I get to look outside of myself and see myself having those experiences at one time. Other people are having those same experiences, but they don’t understand that’s how we live our lives.

The trouble white folks are having in this country in particular is not being able to see that things are happening as they are happening. Then, when some result appears, white people experience a surprise and shock that black folks don’t have. Some of us in this country are under the impression that we are being protected, and some others of us understand that protection was never there. And so that’s what I’m talking about. That’s what I’m interested in. That’s what I want to tell the truth about, the way privilege hurts even the people who are supposedly privileged. We’re experiencing the world on fronts where the same thing happening to two people can be seen in two very different, and, for both of them, very dangerous ways.

Do your students at Emory ever surprise you? Do they ever show you something that makes you think about your work in a different way?
Every day. Every time we meet. Every time they turn in a poem. They’re always doing stuff where I’m like, why did you think that? There’s always something audacious happening in their writing. Because they don’t know any better. They’re breaking rules that they don’t even know are rules. So it’s interesting the ways in which they follow the rules. And the things they say are interesting, not just in their work. They will have realizations or they will say things that they don’t even think of as realizations, and I’ll think, That’s what they meant. That’s what that poem I’ve been reading means. They have genius in them; I’m not exaggerating.

Aside from your position at Emory, what keeps you in Atlanta?
There are a lot of black queer folks here, and it’s nice to be around that. Black people here, the South, what I hear. I need the vernacular. I need the colloquialisms that are particular to the South. I need the accent. I need it, quite honestly, in order to make my work. Sometimes, maybe I need to miss it, too. I was able to write a book when I was in San Diego that had to do with the fact that I missed [the South]. But this literary scene has always been good and is about to be at another peak moment. I’m really excited to be a part of that and to give and to contribute to Atlanta.

Jericho Brown will be reading from his latest book, The Tradition at the Decatur Book Festival on Sunday, September 1 at 2:30 p.m. in the Decatur Presbyterian Sanctuary.

New York bespoke tailor Michael Andrews returns home to Atlanta to provide suiting for men and women alike

Michaels Andrews Bespoke AtlantaFew backstreets in New York have likely seen as many well-dressed and besuited individuals pass through as Great Jones Alley. There, a stream of white-collar visitors enters the nondescript entrance of custom tailor Michael Andrews Bespoke. Behind the doors of this flagship store, clients find a towering space where marble tabletops, a stocked bar, and walls of luxury garments unfold before them. It is here that founder and CEO Michael Andrews and his team have been crafting custom suits for Fortune 500 CEOs, Broadway casts, Marvel actors, and numerous other high-profile clients for 13 years.

Andrews’s custom tailoring has not been reserved for New Yorkers, though. He and his team also make regular visits to Washington, D.C. and Abu Dhabi, and have recently expanded their purview to include Andrews’s hometown of Atlanta, the first U.S. city in which the company will be implementing regular trunk shows. Last weekend, Andrews was in Atlanta for his fourth such visit, bringing with him an array of luxury fabric and suit racks laid out in a polished suite of the Four Seasons Hotel.

Michaels Andrews Bespoke Atlanta
Michael Andrews

Photograph courtesy of Michael Andrews Bespoke

After graduating from Georgia Tech in 1996, Andrews went on the get a JD/MBA at Northwestern, a path which eventually led him to join the ranks of King & Spalding’s New York office, one of the few law firms that still requires full business attire. His subsequent search for the ideal work wardrobe yielded no success, launching his journey toward creating the perfect suit, not just for himself, but for any person desiring meticulously made custom pieces.

In an industry with a tradition of loyalty and exceptional customer service, longstanding relationships remain the foundation of bespoke tailoring. It made sense, then, for Andrews to expand his business’s reach into Atlanta’s relatively untapped market, a place where he was born, raised, and began his career path.

Because of the nature of bespoke, Andrews’s work is not characterized by a singular design element, but rather by the exceptional fit and detailed personalization of each garment. With made-to-measure suits starting at $995 and full bespoke suits starting at $1,995, the team works personally with each client to sift through the endless possibilities that custom tailoring offers.

Michaels Andrews Bespoke AtlantaMichaels Andrews Bespoke AtlantaSince its inception a little over a decade ago, Michael Andrews Bespoke has expanded beyond men’s suits to include custom denim, outerwear, and most recently, womenswear. Though bespoke suiting has long been reserved for gentlemen—think London’s legendary Savile Row—the demand for well-made women’s suits has grown as the number of women in leadership and corporate professions has increased. Andrews explains that while the demand for men’s suits is on the decline, the market for custom professional womenswear is blossoming.

“The days of guys wearing suits to work five days a week is not what it used to be,” he says. “In every aspect of the economy, women are taking their seat at the table, finally, and they want to dress the part.”

Michaels Andrews Bespoke AtlantaThe womenswear line will launch company-wide on September 12, soon after which Andrews will be returning to Atlanta to accept appointments—women included. It seems the team at Michael Andrews Bespoke has determined a way to honor old-world tailoring traditions while adeptly maneuvering a modernizing world.

Andrews will return to Atlanta in late September to take appointments. Exact dates have yet to be announced, but clients may make future appointments through the Michael Andrews Bespoke website. Order times vary depending on the type of garment, but a client’s first suit typically takes between eight to twelve weeks to be made, with the time shortening to six to eight weeks with subsequent suit orders.

Soft sands to sleek runway: SCAD grad Caroline Ruder debuts beach-inspired first collection

Caroline Ann Spring/Summer 2019
Caroline Ann Spring/Summer 2019

Photograph courtesy of Caroline Ann

Sitting under the beating sun at Hilton Head Island in the early 1990s, four-year-old Caroline Ruder had no idea that over two decades later, the brightly colored ruffles of her sandy children’s bathing suit would become the source of inspiration for her own clothing designs. Influenced by stacks of old family vacation photos, Ruder’s Caroline Ann Spring/Summer 2019 collection flashes with the bold pinks, blues, and oranges of those early beach days.

Caroline Ann Spring/Summer 2019
Caroline Ann Spring/Summer 2019

Photograph courtesy of Caroline Ann

Caroline Ann Spring/Summer 2019
Caroline Ann Spring/Summer 2019

Photograph courtesy of Caroline Ann

On Tuesday evening, the Atlanta native and SCAD graduate launched her debut collection to the public for the first time in a trunk show partnership with Tootsies in Buckhead. Towering models draped in billowing colorblocked dresses and dramatically ruffled jumpsuits brought hints of the seaside to Tootsies’s racks of luxury merchandise.

After meeting Ruder through the Atlanta chapter of Fashion Group International, Sara Mixon, events coordinator and stylist at Tootsies, was struck by her flowing designs and knew they had to be brought to the store. “I felt very strongly about her collection,” she says. “I think it’s brave, and exciting, and bright.”

Caroline Ann Spring/Summer 2019
Caroline Ann Spring/Summer 2019

Photograph courtesy of Caroline Ann

Caroline Ann Spring/Summer 2019
Caroline Ann Spring/Summer 2019

Photograph courtesy of Caroline Ann

The brand’s philosophy—“Today is an occasion worth dressing for”—is hardly lost in translation through the collection. Anybody wearing the vibrant tones and playful movement of Ruder’s designs would be hard to miss on the street. Donning the elegant floor-length folds of the Emily dress to do your weekly grocery shopping would, indeed, be quite the occasion.

Though Caroline Ann has shown on the runways of New York and Vancouver Fashion Week, Ruder has no plans to jet off to relocate her Atlanta-based business to a more fashion-focused city. “Atlanta is my home and is my home base,” she says. “New York has honestly never been part of the equation to me.”

Caroline Ann Spring/Summer 2019
Caroline Ann Spring/Summer 2019

Photograph courtesy of Caroline Ann

Even though Ruder will not be taking Caroline Ann out of the city anytime soon, the spring/summer collection was only at Tootsies for a limited two-day show. But Ruder’s looks can always be found online.

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