Raven Reda and Project Runway's Ben Chmura show their newest collections at Garment District 813

[image-1]Ben Chmura of Project Runway fame showed his Resort Collection: Lamia’s Wrath. While we are happy to see the "Chmura shoulder" disappear with season 7 of Runway, I was more interested in each piece than the way the looks were put together. I will take a top here and there, the men's clothing had some really interesting details and that final dress was awesome, but I am a  bit anti-sequins as a general rule (sparkles feel a bit Anthony-style if you ask me). Ben showed a fun collection full of interesting, colorful and playful looks. I love seeing that from him; as in the Madame Butterfly dress he almost won a challenge for, he plays with color like a master. And honestly, I just think he's a super-nice-guy and I am so proud to have him represent Tampa in the fashion world and on the prestigious airwaves of the Lifetime Network.

[image-2]The second show was a collection by Raven Reda, Coup D’etat. Clean lines, tailored looks, finished seams, who needs 'em? Well, ok, I kinda like them but Raven does not seem to be fond of such things. I suppose that there is a market for tattered t-shirts turned catsuits, but I am not in the demo, at all. Her styling was superb, though, with large braided hairpieces that brought together the collection. Raven also won the model lottery; most of her girls out-strut Ben's models, as if Tyra herself were watching them with Miss J at her side. The jewelry  at Garment District 813 was supplied by a Tampa local, Myla Wiley. A friend of mine said she was more interested in the accessories from Vestige by Miss M than Raven's collection, which says something for everyday-wearability and consumer appeal. And the argument between art vs. fashion ensues...

But we will save that argument for another day. For now, check out the photos by James Zambon and tell us what you thought of the collections at Garment District 813!

Well-dressed men, trendy women and a 100-foot runway in the middle of an industrial district... for a minute there, I forgot we were in Tampa. But then, there it was, the 90-degree heat and the 170 percent humidity, reminding us that this is Florida and as much as we may think the idea of a fashion show in an abandoned warehouse is a good idea, it is also as hot as the inner sanctum of hell. Not to say that Garment District 813 this Saturday night was a hot mess, quite the opposite actually; it was a pretty fabulous night of fashion in Tampa.

Ben Chmura and Raven Reda each showed collections that distracted us from the sweaty messes we had all become throughout the evening, and the runway was lined with Tampa media-types, photographers and fashionistas. Jesse LeNoir of Project Runway was in attendance with his wife and they were very sweet and excited to be there to support fellow contestant Ben. Jesse didn't even seem to know that I was the podcaster who had snarkily referred to him as Captain Jack Sparrow for the entire season. (Sorry, Jesse, you seem like a really good guy... even if you do dress up as a pirate sometimes. Let's be friends, k?)

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