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Even though I live in New York now, I still feel connected to my hometown in Tennessee through family and friends. Recently, I was intrigued to hear about a new event in Chattanooga (a city I never thought of as particularly fashion forward): Chattanooga Fashion Week.

The idea for the event began as the brainchild of Jaime Hatcher Hemsley of Gage Talent, a modeling agency that she has owned for 11 years. Hemsley got her start in the fashion industry when she attended modeling school at the age of 13 and has since dedicated her career to managing talent. I had the pleasure of interviewing Hemsley to learn more about this upcoming event.

In July of 2011, Hemsley was attending an event in New York City when she entered into a conversation with a colleague about an upcoming Fashion Week event in Austin, TX. After witnessing the success of Austin Fashion Week for designers and models, Hemsley was inspired to bring a similar event to Knoxville, TN.

"I could wish for it to happen, or I could make it happen," says Hemsley. "I wanted to see how communities throughout the United States set theirs up, so I traveled and studied for six months."

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[a look from Knoxville Fashion Week, photography by Bryant Newman for Wiselyn Photography]


This period of time involved analyzing successful fashion events in Charlotte, NC; Washington, D.C.; New Orleans, LA; Phoenix, AZ; Birmingham, AL; Nashville, TN; and Charleston, SC. Her observations empowered her to found Knoxville Fashion Week last spring. The second Knoxville Fashion Week begins today and features 18 designers, 37 sponsors and crew of models, hair stylists and makeup artists.

The inaugural Chattanooga Fashion Week begins August 22 and will be hosted by Warehouse Row, a former Civil War fort transformed into a local merchandising space. With an homage to their original architecture, modern updates and a central downtown location, Warehouse Row is the perfect venue for this major local fashion event.

The event will span four days and feature local designers, models and sponsors. Attendees will see pieces from more than 10 designers with wares ranging from evening wear to jewelry, ready-to-wear collections to fashionable cycling gear. To buy tickets or see the schedule, click here.

Although some people may not think of Chattanooga as a fashion-forward city, the local style industry is growing. "For those who are negative about fashion being found in small cities, I point out that fashion and vision are born into a person, and they need only the outlet," says Hemsley. "We hope Chattanooga Fashion Week offers that outlet and a chance for the fashion arts to find a place in the Chattanooga community."

In addition to the interview, Hemsley was also kind enough to offer two VIP passes to Chattanooga Fashion Week for a reader of A Flattering Tale! These VIP passes land you a guaranteed seat in the first or second row during the Grand Finale Runway Show on Saturday. If you'd like to win the tickets, please comment on this post with your name, a way to reach you and why you would like to attend.

Disclaimer: Please do not enter this giveaway unless you live in the Chattanooga area or are planning to be there during Chattanooga Fashion Week. Since I am unable to attend, I am excited to give away these tickets to someone who will be attending the event in my place. If you have any questions, please let me know!

This contest ends Saturday, August 18, at 11:59 p.m. EST.


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