"Oh my God!" Jackie Thomas exclaims. Thomas is the founder of the San Diego-based PR and marketing firm Lauderdale Media, but she grew up in Memphis (on Lauderdale Street, to be exact) and she returns to town this week for the second MidSouth Fashion Week. Her outburst comes after she's asked about her style coming-of-age in the '80s. "Madonna, everything MTV. Spiky, big hair, tons of makeup," she specifies, noting, "It's making a comeback."
Thomas was inspired to create MidSouth Fashion Week by New York Fashion Week, but not by what she was seeing. It was what she wasn't seeing. "There's a whole other level of designers not being recognized — FUBU, Rachel Roy," Thomas says. "What about St. Louis? What about Memphis?"
Thomas' firm represents a lot of reality stars, so getting celebrity designers for the first Fashion Week wasn't tough. But having left Memphis in 1985 and only returning sporadically, Thomas wasn't familiar with the local talent. So she got in her car and drove around, visiting malls and boutiques, getting the word out as much as possible. "It was wonderful," Thomas says of the inaugural show, which was hosted by America's Next Top Model winner Krista White and featured 10 to 20 pieces from local designers and pieces from celebrity designers.
Thomas says the show will have about the same number of looks this year, and she's particularly excited about the seminars, which include "The Business Side of Fashion" and "Casting for Reality TV." Scheduled to appear are Reco Chapple of The Fashion Show and Qristyl Frazier and Korto Momolu from Project Runway.
"Oh my God!" Thomas exclaims once again. This time, she's asked about her current style. At the time of the interview, she happens to be wearing a Memphis Tigers T-shirt. "I'm all over the place," she says. "If I like it, I like it, and I'm going to wear it."
MidSouth Fashion Week 2011, Jack Robinson Gallery, Friday, September 30th-Sunday, October 2nd. For a full schedule and more information, go to midsouthfashionweek.com.