photos by Nina Penalosa

Urban Stitch Boutique is one of Oakland’s beloved spots for fashionistas. Normally, they showcase and sell wares from local designers, but they had an international makeover as they hosted the pop up shop A Cultural Invasion on August 21 and 22. Shoppers were given the unique opportunity to browse and purchase apparel and accessories from independent designers from all over Europe, including Judy Wu, Vivienne Austin, Francesca Marotta, Omar Mansoor, NYX London, and many others.

We here are Wear Your Voice made sure to head over to check out all the fabulousness that our stylish neighbors across the pond are creating (and wearing)!

Donna Llewellyn, the CEO of CMG Global Vision, curated the entire shindig. Originally from the UK, Llewellyn grew up in London’s manufacturing district and later moved to New York where she worked in the fashion industry for 10 years doing tradeshows, fashion week events, sales, and marketing. Today with CMG Global, she represents emerging businesses such as the designers that were featured at A Cultural Invasion. Prior to their stop in Oakland, Llewellyn previously showcased these collections to Californian shoppers in Beverly Hills and Hollywood. And beyond California, these garments were also shown in Canada and the East Coast. Llewellyn has also produced a documentary Branded Heritage that focuses on three up and coming designers from the UK which was featured at the London Film Festival last year. She is currently working on another documentary focusing on the how well-received the designers she’s been showing around the US are doing.

When I asked why she chose Oakland in particular rather than San Francisco to introduce these emerging designers from Europe to American shoppers — which seems to be what most companies would do — she said that this particular kind of event would’ve gotten lost in San Francisco amongst the many other things that are constantly going on over there. She also felt it might not be appreciated as much there as opposed to Oakland, where the local fashion scene is continually thriving.

Italian designer Francesca Marotta (pictured below), whose work has been featured in Vogue and high fashion runway shows across the globe including New York Fashion Week, was also in attendance for the two-day event. Shoppers were able to come and meet her and get personally fitted by her. Marotta’s collection was full of beautiful feminine silhouettes created with lush fabrics such as brocade, velvet, and organza. Marotta said she loves creating garments that are modest, but still very sexy by accentuating the female form in her designs and the use of sheer fabrics. She also takes inspiration from stories, films, and people in her life when designing a collection. The one that was shown at A Cultural Invasion was made for a “bisexual woman on a murderous rampage.” And take note of how her velvet dress below has pockets. You know how we feel about pockets at Wear Your Voice Mag — we LOVE them!

From formal attire to casual jumpers, leather satchels, glasses, and jewelry – A Cultural Invasion was truly a fashionable smorgasbord that should not have been missed by any fashionistas in the Bay Area.

Francesca Maratto with her designs

Tees by 304 and gowns by Omar Mansoor

Men’s jumper by 304

Dresses by Judy Wu

Visit Urban Stitch Boutique at 1635 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

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