'A very organic, couture feel'

Photos by Scott Millus | For the TidingsLake North does a little turn on the catwalk during the fashion show at Paschal Winery last Friday.

Last Friday evening, Paschal's Winery of Talent hosted "Crush," an outdoor vineyard fashion show that was organized by Spirit Wrzesinski. If not for the fresh mountain air and local scenery, the event might just as well have been taking place 3,000 miles away at New York Fashion Week.

Barefoot models floated down an outdoor runway adorned with grape vines and vast candles, and the audience breathed in fresh fall fashions that are available in the Rogue Valley.

"I wanted to have a very organic, couture feel," said Wrzesinski of her vision for the show. "All models were barefoot and they had with messy hair decorated with organics from the forest."

The owner of local Ashland Boutique Oh Behave! for almost six years, Wrzesinski has left the boutique business to pursue her other great passion: creating fashion shows. This is Wrzesinski's ninth fashion show in the Rogue Valley, and one that she has been preparing for many months. Earlier this year, she started up her new company, Citizens of Style, and has been planning and designing events around fashion ever since. Although she now designs and coordinates shows for others with Citizens of Style, "Crush" is one of her very own creations.

Wrzesinski's own fashion shows also support another passion of hers: charity. Proceeds from her shows benefit "Fashion to the Rescue" &

a charity which raises funds for children with severe illnesses.

"Crush" began with a reception of food and wine inside the winery, and then the audience took their seats outside that lined the silken runway. The performance started out with a presentation by Ashland Dance Works, and two grape leaf and taffeta adorned ballerinas welcomed the audience to the event with a harvest dance.

From there, the fashion show was divided into three collections: Crush, Autumn Ambrosia and Lovespell. Crush was the first to show, and men and women of all ages modeled the fall fashions of local boutiques Exude, Urban Minx, and Ava La Rue, as well as the designs of Hollina Hickey.

When the collection was finished it was followed by another dance performance featuring the talent of ballerina and choreographer Sarah Avery and modern ballet dancer Esteban Linares in "Ballet in Autumn." The performance was accompanied by a special appearance of the "vineyard fairies"; little girls who pranced down the runway with their wings in tow.

Next came the Autumn Ambrosia Collection, which Wrzesinski dubbed to be her "baby" of the show. The mood shifted quickly from jeans and jackets to lacy floral patterns, baby doll dresses and lots and lots of ruffles. Murmurs of "Oh, I love that," and "That's so cute!" swept through the audience as they admired the newly elegant designs. The sun had quickly set behind the hills, and the flickering candlelight and glittering white lights that adorned the runway created an eerily elegant affect. As the summer air cooled around them, the audience wrapped themselves tighter inside scarves and jackets and prepared for the final collection.

"With the winery I wanted to blend wine and fashion for something fresh and different. So, I kept the lighting super, super soft," said Wrzesinski. "I wanted to keep it very intimate."

Therefore Lovespell commenced with "Opera in the Moonlight," a performance by Miss Rogue Valley Cassandra Tollman. Then the collection debuted and the mood shifted once again. Gowns became longer, darker, and tighter. The collection oozed the elegance and old glamour of Urban Minx, Ava La Rue, and Exude, and featured designs from Hollina Hickey, Holly Anderson and Tiffa Nova. As in most of Spirit's fashion shows, the final design was the showstopper of the evening. An elaborate couture gown made of yards and yards of gathered taffeta bustled around the heels of a model whose look came with complete Trojan headdress.

When the show ended, a silent auction was available for guests to purchase anything from bottles of wine to one-of-a-kind gowns from the collections. All of the proceeds benefited "Fashion to the Rescue."

Crush will be the last show that Wrzesinski will put on for herself in the next year. With Citizens of Style receiving more attention then ever, she will be far too busy coordinating shows for other businesses and customers to coordinate her own at the same time.

"I will be taking a break to work with some other individuals," said Wrzesinski. "And I also need quite a bit of time to prepare for my next big show."

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