Despite being worlds away from designer capitals, St. Petersburg is home to many clothing creators, and got its own taste of Fashion Month this September. The Avant. Gala Fashion Art Show at Coastal Creative hosted some recent collections and more on September 17, and the Gabber talked to a few of these talented designers.
New York native, St. Petersburg local Dana Blickensderfer doesn’t consider herself a designer first – that came later.
Her main form of expression is oil on canvas and photo work. Lately however, Blickensderfer has been into her body-molded “cleo-suits” that she debuted at the Coastal show.
“As a woman, working with the female form is such a tangible experience,” Blickensderfer said. “I haven’t done any body work on the male form, but being a female, it’s just more comfortable.”
The goddess-inspired looks are created from spray paint and duct tape, and come together on-site – a suit of “fem” armor inspired by Queen Cleopatra, a nod to the artist’s Egyptian ancestry.
This is Blickensderfer’s first fashion show, but she’s no stranger to on-the-spot painting.
An alumni of The New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture, she painted live in Times Square for a crowd when she lived in the city.
“I like to leave the experience up to the moment,” Blickensderfer said. “I want people to see my work and feel motivated, inspired. I like creating a buzz within the room.”
The face behind a line of pitch-black alternative wear, Alexandra Martorano is a Long Island-native cocktail waitress and leather artist living in St. Petersburg.
“I lost a lot of motivation for about five years,” Martorano said. “During quarantine, I was like, ‘Okay, how can I create and make money?’”
Martorano, who previously worked as a media artist, knew she wanted to master a form of accessory creation, but didn’t have the patience for traditional sewing.
“I was triggered by punk and BDSM…I think I sell more festival clothing than anything, but sometimes I have buyers that are looking for a fetish aspect,” she said.
Since she began selling in March of 2020, Martorano’s leather has been sourced from distributors in Illinois, Tampa and Montana.
What shows up in a shapeless animal hide is transformed into collars, boot straps, harnesses or tiny tops.
“Seeing it on the model was mind blowing,” Martorano said. “The crowd’s reaction when my stuff came onto the runway. I cried a few times.”
Follow Martorano’s leather looks on Instagram at instagram.com/othalaleather.
Reduce, Reuse, Re-wear
A fashion marketing student at the Art Institute of Tampa, Tailor Sallee created her first collection of silk skirts and formal dresses right before the world shut down.
Originally from Missouri, Sallee has graduated from ceremonial looks to sustainable street wear.
“Someone asked me, ‘Who made your clothes?’ It got me thinking,” she said. “I can’t support fast fashion; I want to be mindful of what I put on my and others’ bodies.”
Sallee reworks vintage materials and “dead stock” into entirely new forms in an effort to minimize waste while continuing to experiment with new styles.
A discarded scarf can become a slouchy top with an expert hand.
“I love it, because I know the pieces I create are going to be re-loved. I see them around town and it feels good,” Sallee said. “I have this special relationship with clothing, and I want others to as well.”
See her Brooklyn-ite St. Pete pieces on Instagram at instagram.com/tailorsallee.