First Fridays, the monthly street festivals held in downtown Phoenix, have live music, food trucks and celebrations of local art.
They’re also a fashion lover’s dream. Nestled between coffee shops and art galleries, Roosevelt Row has quite the array of shops. VOX Curvy Couture, a boutique located on Roosevelt and Fifth streets, is one store that takes advantage of the eclectic bustle of First Fridays, using the opportunity to spotlight local artists and bring attention to their edgy high-end apparel.
On Friday, VOX hosted an artist reception to celebrate a selection of art from Babe&Butter, in addition to a pop-up show to display their new Isle of View collection. Check out our take on the dazzling art exhibit and fashion show.
The work of the artist featured this month at VOX, Tanina Jackson of Babe&Butter, really caught my attention. Upon walking into the store, my eyes immediately went to the colorful, glittery, fashion-focused paintings.
I thought the display was so different from a traditional gallery showing. Typically, when I go to a gallery I don’t have the option to shop for clothing. Here, the atmosphere of an art gallery was combined with that of an accessible clothing boutique.
After all, this semester I decided to minor in art history in order to establish a better connection between my love of fashion and the arts and my love of journalism. I love talking to local artists and I was ecstatic to learn that Jackson was on her way to the event.
Jackson’s creations depicted stylish scenes of my generation, including fashionistas wearing sky-high stiletto heels and the true art of a smartphone selfie. The works paired well with VOX’s edgy, modern clothing.
“Babe&Butter’s work is awesome because it’s fabulous because it’s very girly, but it’s kind of empowering to think about the fact that this young woman who’s making this super girly work is surviving off of that,” said Sarah Ericson, the gallery and events coordinator for VOX.
My favorite painting, entitled “Oh La La,” featured a Chanel No. 5 bottle and glinting purple diamonds. Trust me, if I had $300 with me I would have quickly snatched it up.
Not only does she paint on canvas, Jackson also paints on bags and shoes. In addition, she prints some of her artwork on clothing, according to the event’s press release.
Every third Friday, VOX chooses a new artist to spotlight, and Jackson received January’s spot. Jackson came in contact with the store after she came to see a friend’s work featured at VOX.
“She recommended me and it was a good fit,” Jackson said.
Jackson began painting at 12 years old, and she learned much of her technique from two other artists, she said. She received a degree in communications from ASU in 2008.
“Toward the end of my college years I started painting again, but I started to paint what I really wanted to paint,” said Jackson.
I thoroughly enjoyed this First Friday event at VOX. I mean, who wouldn’t love a free fashion show and a meet-and-greet with a local artist?
VOX will display Jackson’s art until Feb. 20, and I highly recommend checking it out.
In addition to Babe&Butter’s sparkling and chic paintings, the event showcased another way of truly bringing fashion to life.
The VOX models put a twist on the traditional idea of a runway. They took to the streets, weaving their way down Roosevelt Street in a move described by Ericson as “delivering fabulous fashion to the neighborhood.”
The models ventured out into the hustle and bustle of Roosevelt Street twice, handing out fliers as VOX owner Andy McManis carried an old-fashioned boom box blasting thumping pop songs.
I got the scoop from McManis on the origins of this unique idea.
“During New York Fashion Week some designers have done a similar sort of thing where they put up a stage and do a pop-up fashion show,” she said. “I was like, you know what, we can do that too.”
The idea of integrating style into such a huge street festival was another inspiring factor. McManis explained: “I feel like fashion is something that you wear all the time and you do every day, so bringing it into an environment where people are actually here, dressed up and having a good time and kind of bring the fashion to them, is kind of what I wanted to do.”
The models donned VOX gear that included items as classic as platform pumps and skater skirts to items with even more trademark flair, such as the store’s Eye Spy clutch and floral-and-fishnet Royal Roses top.
The cast of models came together through an open casting call, which resulted in over 30 submissions, according to McManis.
“These are the cream of the crop,” she said about the models featured in Friday’s show.
In addition to displaying the clothing, the models also took an active part in the creative planning of the show itself.
“This would have been nothing like this had I not taken those ideas from all the girls who were like, ‘Let’s do this, let’s try that,’” McManis said. “Everything just ended up being a lot more fun.”
Shannie Shortcake, who modeled in the show, says she loves VOX because it is a “local company supporting all sizes.”
For model Danielle Esplanade, the best part of the show was “getting the word out about VOX.”
It isn’t every day a parade of fashionable ladies strut through the patio of Jobot Coffee and Dining or right down the middle of Roosevelt Row. VOX has the formula down — take a street event teeming with people, outfit models in the chicest new designs, and quite literally make the world a runway.