What goes better together than zombies and vintage fashion? Nothing, if you ask Charlisha Renata of Memphis’ Couture Pieces Restored Fashion.
Yes, that’s CPR Fashion. No, it didn’t take me three days to figure it out (yes, it did).
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Dusk fell on the roof of a midtown garage, and we all shivered in our vintage wool coats. The temperature had fallen thirty degrees over the last few days, but it didn’t keep anyone from coming out to the vintage fashion show featuring gory, yet oddly glamorous, special effects makeup, just in time for every fashionista’s favorite holiday–Halloween. Two long rows lined either side of the makeshift catwalk, perpendicularly capped by a VIP row in the place where only photographers are usually relegated to, setting an intimate scene. When I arrived, the moon was low in the clear sky, crisp winds viciously funneling into the space. On the sidelines, a DJ rolled out R&B tunes, flowing effortlessly from upbeat love songs to slow anthems of heartbreak.
Soon, Charlisha introduced Juju Bushman with his long dreads, grey skinny jeans, tall creepers, and long black coat. He took to a clean electric guitar piped through a small amp, crooning in a way that could only be described as the lovechild of Jeff Buckley and John Legend.
In the meantime, I met a few of my fellow VIPers, whose style, each spunky yet smooth and chic, impressed me (especially the midriff!). Check them out:
Tabitha – I loved her use of a bright kelly green. How unexpected, am I right? Tamisha – How brave is she? That midriff! Jermecce – I loved the bright lips with the hairstyle. Very vintage glam.
As for me, I neglected to take a photo of my outfit before the show, as I was, as always, running late, and when I got home, all I could think to do was melt into anything unflattering and fleece-lined I could find. Never mind that; all anyone saw of my digs for the show anyway was my coat! But I carefully planned my outfit to reflect a love of vintage in a modern display. I wore this vintage dress:
over black lace tights, with classic black pumps, layered with this harness:
all bundled together with this bright red wool vintage coat from the 60s:
As the sun set fully, we suddenly forgot the cold as the show started. The R&B was replaced by traditional house music, and the show began. The first scene showcased vintage officewear, but these weren’t your average Joan Harris-inspired digs! I was struck at once by the strong silhouettes and colors, starting with a stunning cobalt dress with broad shoulders and sequin details. Charlisha later told me that the cobalt is not only a trend for fall 2012 (leading into spring 2013, as well), but a special color to her, as well. It was her late mother’s favorite color–they buried her in this cobalt–so no matter where she goes, Charlisha picks up these pieces in remembrance of her mother.
In this scene, even the more traditionally feminine looks–a necktie blouse and pencil skirt–were offset by a ferocious fierceness that you don’t find in an average show.
Did I mention that the models were zombies?
Hair a foot-and-a-half high off the head, shaped into what I can only describe as a keyhole; faces half ripped-off or split down the middle; deadpan stares that mean a bit more than when plastered on the faces of lanky 16-year-old Russian girls at a fall Alexander McQueen show.
The officewear scene continued with abundant neckties and classic skirt and pant silhouettes; with high mock turtlenecks and full, yet floating, sleeves in a fall-appropriate mint green; demure cowl necks paired with strong florals.
A long-sleeved black sequined shift dress with broad shoulders and a floral detail transitioned the officewear scene smoothly into my perma-favorite, evening wear (I mean, have you seen my vintage shop? [Oh wait, I can never bring myself to actually sell the eveningwear, just hoard it.]). Here we saw many of the same themes, from that cobalt blue to flashy detailing to those strong silhouettes. The juxtaposition of the gory makeup and the fully glam dresses set this scene apart from any other show I’d seen, except maybe the prom scene in the Walking Dead (Haven’t see that episode yet? That’s odd..).
The next scene was another rare moment in a fashion show–meaning and continuity. An emcee asked if there were any breast cancer survivors in the house, and one woman hooped and hollared–the attitude and cheerfulness was touching enough. Our emcee then introduced a “pink scene” in honor of women with breast cancer and breast cancer survivors, inspired by Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Two of the show’s mastermind, Charlisha’s aunts are breast cancer survivors, tinting the scene with a sweet personal and meaningful touch.
The gorgeous and highly feminine looks were only icing on the cake in this scene, and I fell madly in love with a long, sleek, yet billowy pale pink dress with a strong 1940s-inspired long-sleeved upper body silhouette. However, most looks in this scene committed to a more characteristic approach in Charlisha’s shows–vibrant colors, emphasis on silhouettes, and focus on details, which translated into deep pinks and well-fitting shoulder pads. I noted several continuations of a wrap skirt-style detail that I’d seen in the other scenes of the show, which provided a feminine shape to an otherwise all-business set.
Charlisha led the final walk in a strong black blazer layered over a bright canary yellow necktie top, a loose graphic printed full skirt and opaque tights, a look that fully expressed her energetic and bold style and personality.
Charlisha Renata is a photographer in Memphis, TN, specializing in fashion photography. She founded and runs the Memphis Fashion Group. She is the owner and curator at Couture Pieces Resurrected (or CPR Fashion). You can shop for the pieces featured in the show here. For more information about upcoming shows, like Couture Pieces Resurrected on Facebook.