Underground Lauderdale Fashion Weekend to feature Nicole Miller and Susanne Bartsch

Underground Lauderdale Fashion Weekend coming to @ShopSawgrass & @FAT_Village

Fashion superstar Nicole Miller may be opening Underground Lauderdale Fashion Weekend, but the event is really about promoting up-and-coming fashion designers.

"We are also showcasing a group of emerging designers, several who are new to the business and far from mainstream commodities," program producer Ian Gerard explains. "So they are not designers or looks that your average South Floridian is going to find at the local mall or department store."

The event — a series of runway shows, pop-up shops and parties — will be held March 31 and April 1 in FAT Village in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Nicole Miller will open the catwalk shows with a presentation of her spring 2017 collection at 9 p.m. Friday, March 31.

"My recent pre-fall collection really captured that New York downtown vibe, lots of darker colors and prints, and edgy," Miller says in an email. "When I think of fashion in Fort Lauderdale, it has to be a little lighter, a little more of a beach-town vibe. My spring 2017 line and 'La Plage' collections are both perfect for the Fort Lauderdale fashion audience. They're brighter, have beautiful embroideries and special details, and the La Plage line's swimwear is perfect for the location. I wanted to mix in some of my spring runway pieces, too, because the colors really work together, and the patterns are fun for the season and the location."

Event producer Susanne Bartsch will close the weekend with a finale party on April 1. The self-proclaimed "Queen of the Night" will also curate an avant-garde "art-a-porter" fashion show of seven wearable art designers from New York.

"We have two local South Florida designers: Ramona LaRue and Zoey Reva," Gerard says. "Zoey is the youngest and freshest of the talent. She launched her collection last year and, at the age of 20, will be presenting her first fashion show of feminine contemporary ready-to-wear. Ramona LaRue is designed by Arianne Brown, and she has been in business since 2008. She has four freestanding boutiques here in South Florida."

Gerard says designers from New York will include the Alice and Trixie label, designed by Angela George; the Descendants of Thieves, a contemporary menswear line; and Saunder, an edgy feminine line also showing a few menswear looks. And there will be some "see now, buy now" collection available in a Fashion Marketplace component of the program (or locally at retailers or online).

"We have made sure that several of the designers selected have looks and portions of their collection that speak to the boho-chic style that helps define Fort Lauderdale fashion," Gerard says. "That style is represented in contemporary, ready-to-wear collections, with a dash of resort thrown in. We are purposely avoiding straight swimwear lines, as swimwear is truly a defining genre for Miami and its well-known Swim Wee,k and thus already is accessible to consumers."

He continues: "Overall, we have sought to serve as a showcase for both the Fort Lauderdale fashion sense and also to introduce other fashion styles, that while they may not be the current vibe for Fort Lauderdale, we believe that those who live here would love to experience firsthand and to know what else is going on in the world of fashion, especially the country's fashion capital, New York City."

Underground Lauderdale Fashion Weekend will take place March 31 and April 1 at 519-523 NW First Ave., in FAT Village in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Friday's Nicole Miller fashion show, reception and after-party is $35 for standing, $75 for seated and $250 for front row (benefits Style Saves).

Saturday all-access pass (five fashion shows, pop-up shop, closing party) is $50.

Saturday closing party hosted by Susanne Bartsch is $35

To order, go to UndergroundLauderdaleFashionWeekend.com.

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