The Fashion Destination Group held their first annual Fashion Extravaganza on June 9th at the St. Regis Resort and Spa Monarch Beach in beautiful Dana Point. Aimed to showcase emerging local designers and music artists, the all day event benefited Costa Mesa based Working Wardrobes, a charity devoted to helping men, women and young adults re-enter the workforce after catastrophic life events. During the day, an outdoor catwalk featured trendy summer fashions from brands like Young, Broke & Fabulous and Hudson. During the evening, the indoor Luxe Runway Fashion Show took place in the St. Regis Ballroom and was hosted by Catt Sadler from E! News. Showings this evening included the Spring/Summer 2012 evening wear collection from Iraqi designer Oday Shakar.
Shakar is actually a Southern California native of Iraqi descent. However, he ended up spending time in Iraq during his childhood due to political upheaval which detained him while he was visiting on holiday. He was separated from his parents and friends back in the States and taken in by his aunt. As fate would have it, Shakar’s aunt recognized his artistic temperment and taught him the art of pattern making, draping and sewing during his stay. It was at this time Shakar realized he wanted to be a designer. After being permitted to return to the states, he went on to study at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in California.
Shakar believes in timeless evening wear designs and doesn’t design his collections in pursuit of any trends happening in the fashion world. When asked what inspires him in his designs, Shakar says, “Emotions from life experiences. I always pull from my life. I create titles to my collections that have metaphors behind them that relate to things I’ve been through and inspire me to be stronger. I try to inspire woman to be confident, strong and independent. Anything can inspire me, a book, a sunset, a moment with some one. I always try and find inspiration in everything I do in life.” Shakar also cites Eli Saab as a designer who has had a huge influence on him and it all dates back to Shakar’s life changing time in Iraq. Says Shakar, “Eli Saab has been an inspiration. I went to his first fashion show when I was 12 in Beirut; that’s when I can say I was first inspired me to pursue my dreams of becoming a fashion designer.”
In the short amount of time since the 2009 launch of Shakar’s evening wear collection, he has come quite a long way. His celebrity clients include such leading ladies as Sandra Bullock, Sofia Vergara, Jennifer Carpenter and Eva La Rue. His evening wear is also carried in select Neiman Marcus stores in California, Florida, and Nevada. Impressively, his collection was picked up by Ken Downing, creative director for Neiman Marcus, on it’s very first showing in New York in 2010. As Shakar asserts, “we were thrilled to have been picked up the very first time we showcased our collection.”
Shakar’s evening wear designs are simple and sophisticated. All his gowns are perfect candidates for an evening on the red carpet and looking at Shakar’s client list, looks like the word is spreading fast. The Spring/Summer 2012 collection shown at the St. Regis included dresses in bold reds, elegant blacks, and chic neutrals. Highlights included a show stopping, one shouldered, floor length black dress with a sheer paneled, beaded top and a sparkly, beaded black mini dress with a plunging v neckline.