Fishin’ For Fashion: Nautical couture for every occasion

Tue, 06/21/2022 - 1:15pm

    Since the first Fishin’ For Fashion in 2014 at the former Rocktide Inn, locals and visitors alike have had a passion for fashion – make that nautical fashion!

    After a two-year absence from the fashion scene, Fishin’ For Fashion was back and the venue was Brisol Marine. Ticket holders began arriving at 1 for drinks, oysters and other appetizers and enjoying the scene. The Wharf Cats were playing jazz and there was quite a buzz in the air.

    Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lisa Walby introduced master of ceremonies Michael Maxim. Maxim took to the runway to the tune of the “Jaws” theme song, stopping frequently for selfies, and the audience loved it. Maxim introduced the audience to the three judges: Sarni Rogers is a native Mainer who grew up summers here in the Southport Yacht Club sailing program and working at JH Hawk. She moved to Los Angeles 16 years ago and for the past seven years has been chief consultant for Nick Fouquet brand luxury fashion and accessories. New England native Meranne Behrands owns Maine ad agency Words from the Woods, working with clients including Merrell, Clark, RTIC, and the agency’s most recent award-winning campaign for MaineHealth. She lives in Portland with her family. And Cristina Frank of WMTW Channel 8 news returned as an FFF judge. As Maxim said, “ … she has a keen eye for top news stories and she’s got the goods on judging the designs. She, too, lives in Portland with her family.

    And, then, the moment we’d been waiting for, the only way to get Fishin For Fashion started, was the appearance of local fashion mavens from Slick’s – Adele Savastano and Andi Bielli. Dressed in their now signature black unitards and rocking outrageous fuschia seaweed and feather headdresses, they moved across the runway to classic mid-70s disco looking fabulous with all the right moves.

    And then, as the twins left the stage, the audience was ready for the first original design. It was sensational: The Lorna Andrews design was worn by Andrews’ granddaughter, Olivia Paolillo, Dana and Joe’s daughter. The sheath dress was constructed of converted jib heet sail, vintage trapeze harness, and adorned with shackles, jib hanks, rope, and fishing bobbers along the edges of the short train; a fun, playful, youthful design just right for a night on the town. This was the Judges’ First Runner Up design.

    Team Calypso created a ball gown with black spinnaker sail bodice bodice with a grommet lace up back closed with sail rope. The wind surfing sail flowing red skirt was accented with a ruffle made of a  218-inch piece of spinnaker cloth. A hoop flounce of lobster trap wire gave the red and black gown the look of a Spanish dancer – and model Savannah Compare looked the part. In sail laced black boots, she worked that runway twirling, and striking poses while the fishing lures of her black spinnaker sailcloth necklace captured the light as the ensemble dazzled the eye. This design was the Judges’ choice for Best Design.

    As for the People’s Choice, that was none other than July Hasch competing for a fourth time. The event being a fundraiser for Project Graduation, Hasch came on board when her son Jay was a senior at Boothbay Region High School. Her designs never fail to impress. It’s hard to believe she doesn’t design for a living; she is a nurse.

    But back to that gorgeous sheath: It was topped with a yellow capelet of repurposed rain gear; the dress bodice was formerly a sail cloth, with two sections of woven lobster bands and sail cloth. Layers with lobster bands were fastened together with nylon twine and grommets. Even the shoulders had lobster band straps. The dress was trimmed with lobster trap clips. The earrings and necklace were created from donated spinner blades.

    And that handbag of nylon twine and lobster bands with handles of funnel hoops! The smallish bag handles were funnel hoops; there was also a coordinating key fob from spinner blades and a lobster trap tag that had belonged to the late Charlie Begin.

    Hasch recalled learning the show was coming back after a two-year hiatus. “I had all of these ideas in my head for designs, but no show. Dana called me in February to say the show was coming back and I was so happy. I love it.” Hasch is hooked for sure – and so are we. Her designs are unique, and could be worn by anyone on a night out in Boothbay Harbor or anywhere else.

    The Best Original Student Design award went to the Interns of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Modeled by Lara Beckius, the stunning short dress with train was made of sail cloth, tarps, a fisherman's jacket and waders, net, and fishing line. The design was hand-painted.

    Desiree Scorcia modeled her own design inspired by 1920s flapper dresses. The dress was made of Glidden Point oyster shells and other materials sourced from the oyster aquaculture industry. Scorcia rocked the red transparent garment as she walked barefoot across the runway. This dress was not designed for the shy or introverted fashionista!

    Hilary St. Jean modeled her own design called “Hook, Line and Sinker.” The only black gown in the show featured hand-stitched on seashells, and shells woven through leather string, fishing net, buoy rope, mini starfish, and sea glass. St. Jean had some “tude” as she walked the runway, even tossing her black bag behind her as she walked. Lovely sea frock it was, too.

    Della Hahn, recent BRHS grad, has been designing for this show for many years. This year’s design was an ’80s-inspired party dress of boat vinyl and hand-sewn oyster shells from Mine Oyster. Hahn said she spent around 16-18 hours sewing all the shells on! She also wore hand-roped sandals with oyster shell accents. And her necklace featured sea glass collected on Squirrel Island.

    From Blue Fern Design was a navy and kelly green sailcloth gown modeled by Scarlett O'Brien. The bodice was navy sailboat umbrella fabric with blue and green beach glass and rope straps. The green sailcloth skirt with green petticoat was adorned with blue fish and blue and white rope straps.

    Earl Brewer’s original design, rocked by model Charlotte Fuchswanz, was hand-sewn from his dad’s recycled float rope onto a basic little black linen cocktail dress with a striking hand-gathered collection of sea glass inset into a “V” on the back of the dress. A very intricate piece.

    And I don’t think any of us will forget “Jellyfish Girl,” designed by Team Janson’s employee Oxana Tarlow and modeled by Natalie Mayotte. Composed of bait bags, hog rings and mending twine, it was an eye-catcher. The jellyfish hat was perfectly shaped and the fishing rope tendrils cascaded down gracefully against the sea greens and blues of the dress and twine. Imaginative. Lovely.

    Models also showed off the threads available at local stores: Slicks – with models Sarah Morley, Ida Lancaster and Shane McBay; from Calypso – Susan Endicott and Carrie Langlois; Sea Bags – Mariah Andrews; Boothbay Harbor Apparel – Meg Sledge and Jackie Branch; Windjammer Emporium – Kevin Danfelser and Jaelyn Crocker; House of Logan – Colby Allen; Ae Ceramics – Pam O’Connor; Janson’s – Jessica Murray and Meagen Cope; and The Village Store – mom and daughter Breanna and Kennedy Davis.

    At press time, the amount raised had not been tallied. Proceeds from ticket sales and the seven auctioned original design handbags were slated to benefit Project Graduation, as always, and the Fishermen’s Memorial Fund.

    If you missed the show, you can still feel like you’re there! Check out Jonne Trees’ excellent video on local cable Channel 1301. And to be in the spirit of the event, have your favorite beverage, dance and get into that Fishin’ For Fashion groove! See you next year!