Shawn Massey, CCIM, SCLS

Memphis Fashion Weekend March 30th-31st – Why it is Important?

Below you will find the article and related link published in today’s Commercial Appeal regarding the upcoming Fashion Weekend to be held in Memphis on March 30 and 31st.  As a retail commercial real estate advisor I am asked often by people why we do have better fashion stores in Memphis.  Although, I think we have a good offering of high quality retail stores in our area we are definitely under-supplied in this category relative to the demand.  I hear often how my friend’s spouses go to New York, Dallas, Houston, and Atlanta at least once a year to shop for clothing.  This event will showcase Memphis and that those fashion designer and retailers in other cities that need to know there is market in Memphis that needs to be served.  Please go out and support these designers, the people who have put allot of effort into making this first show a success and to encourage the national retail community that Memphis would welcome their opening their stores in our community.  

National, celebrity designers to show

collections at inaugural Memphis Fashion


Native Memphian Ellis Dixon has put aside rock climbing in South America and set her sights on creating a collection for the city’s new Memphis Fashion Weekend. The event March 30 and 31 will feature seven collections, including Ellis’, and will bring four designers to the city, including New York designer Neil Bieff.

Bieff, known for his sensuous evening gowns, has dressed some of the world’s most famous women, including Elizabeth Taylor, Diana Ross and Sharon Stone.

Ellis, whose work got attention locally in several boutiques, designed a casual line for a New York manufacturer for three years, while also creating special-order bridal gowns. Her new collection was inspired by the needs of a traveler living out of a backpack.

The shows, which start at 7 p.m. both days, will be held March 30 at Jack Robinson Gallery on South Main and March 31 at A. Schwab on Beale.

Abby Elzemeyer, owner of ETA, Elzemeyer Talent Agency, is heading the organizing body, Memphis Fashion Week, with help from local stores including Joseph, Oak Hall, James Davis and Kittie Kyle.

Macy’s is a sponsor.

Elzemeyer thinks it’s time Memphis caught up with Nashville, Charlotte, N.C., Birmingham and Little Rock, which all have fashion weeks.

“We are not pulling from store racks,” for the shows, she said.

“These are established designers bringing their whole collections.” The venues, including the renovated A. Schwab general store, were chosen to give visitors a taste of what is uniquely Memphis, she noted. Elzemeyer, working with a 13-member board, plans to make the event annual and extend it to a full week as early as next year, she said.

Part of the proceeds will benefit ArtsMemphis, underlining an effort to encourage local design talent. Organizers would like to see one night reserved in the future for local designers. “We got a lot of calls from local designers who wanted to participate” this year, Elzemeyer said, but they were not prepared to meet the requirements, including submitting a spring collection.

One board member is Chad Johnson, a freelance celebrity stylist and manager of the men’s department at Macy’s at The Avenue Carriage Crossing. Johnson has helped select models and link them with designers, and will manage the shows backstage, he said.

“Macy’s is very involved with ArtsMemphis,” Johnson said, “and we want to get involved with more things throughout the city.” Like other stores, Macy’s sees possibilities in connecting with innovative, undiscovered talent, he said, noting Macy’s participation in NBC’s new reality show “Fashion Star.” Some items by contestant Nikki Poulos from the show that aired Tuesday are already sold out on, he said.

Designers who are coming here with their collections include:

Carol Peretz of New York, who is known for special occasion dresses and bridal gowns.

Annie Griffin, a former Memphian now living in Atlanta who founded her self-titled collection in 2009 and offers it in nearly 150 boutiques nationwide.

Gerard Maione, co-founder of What Goes Around Comes Around, a renowned vintage boutique in SoHo and Hollywood, who helped launch the vintage-inspired WGACA Collection for men and women favored by folks such as Katy Perry and Brad Pitt. In 2010, he helped introduce a new concept, the Custom Vintage collection, created from vintage pieces. He will also bring some of his redesigned Chanel garments.

Macy’s is providing Bobbi Brown makeup and makeup artists, Elzemeyer said. Pavo Salon Spa is doing the hair, and The Peabody is donating rooms for the designers, she said.

The new event is not to be confused with two other annual events. Fashion Week Memphis (formerly Urban Fashion Week) has held six shows and plans another in late April, according to organizer James Davis, owner of L.R. Clothier. Details will be posted on, Davis said. It spotlights local designers and retailers. MidSouth Fashion Week, which debuted in 2010, is organized by Jackie Thomas, a San Diego agent and former Memphian. Its lineup has included designers from “Project Runway” and other fashion reality shows.

Dixon is working on a collection of convertible and reversible garments inspired by seven months of hiking and mountain climbing in Colombia, Chile, Argentina and other countries.

She financed her travels by doing freelance work for a women’s gauze-wear maker in Florida and for a costume company through which she designed eight Ringling Brothers clown costumes. “It was a blast,” she said.

Dixon, 30, designed the woven division of Caribbean Joe Apparel, a casual line sold at Macy’s and Dillard’s, among other stores, for three years in New York.

“Traveling with a tent and sleeping bag, there wasn’t much room for clothing,” she said. “So why not come up with a travel line?” she thought. There would be “chameleon pieces for a woman who wants to change her mind but doesn’t have the space for six options.”

A key piece is a reversible wrap and tie skirt that could also be worn as a dress with a halter or one-shoulder neckline. She is working in a very lightweight silk (wrinkles will fall out in the shower room, she said) in solids and prints in Tiffany blue, eggshell, taupe, dark and light gray.

For the past month, she has been chained to a sewing machine at her parents’ home in the University of Memphis area, she said, working to create 25 or 30 pieces that will also include jackets, shrugs and scarves that double as sarongs.

“I feel like I’m on ‘Project Runway,’ ” she said. “At least I don’t have Heidi Klum bugging me every five minutes.”


Memphis Fashion Weekend, featuring seven collections, starts at 7 p.m. March 30 at Jack Robinson Gallery, 44 Huling, and continues at 7 p.m. March 31 at A. Schwab, 163 Beale.

General admission, $35; VIP, $150. Purchase at Peria, Southern Couture, Lavish in Collierville or Downtown at Shop Girl New York, online at or at the door. Call (901) 324-3424.

— Barbara Bradley: (901) 529-2370

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Shawn Massey, CCIM, SCLS is a partner with The Shopping Center Group a 3rd party retail real estate advisory firm in their Memphis office, an adjunct professor in the graduate real estate program at The University of Memphis and a co-founder and Chairman of the Board for the Memphis Business Academy charter schools (K-12grade) in the Frayser area of Memphis.  

For all your retail real estate needs (tenant representation, landlord representation and property, investment & land sales) I hope that you will choose The Shopping Center Group and me to represent you and your business.  We understand that representation is a privilege and that you have a choice!

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