WOMEN IN FASH­ION

Gulf & Main - - Photographers -

MARI­APIA MALERBA, Cape Co­ral mari­apia­malerba.com A former cor­po­rate de­signer, she’s thrown her­self into fiber art, cre­at­ing cou­ture that, if not prac­ti­cal for ev­ery­day use, makes dar­ing pre­sen­ta­tions on stage. “Life of an artist can be very tough,” she adds. “You must con­cen­trate 100 per­cent.” LISSA SCHUESSLER, Naples love-724.com Skirts, tops and dresses can be dressed up or down. “You can wear it on the beach and then out to din­ner with crys­tal heels,” Schuessler says. Ver­sa­til­ity and dura­bil­ity is the name of 724’s game. Donned by 19-to-22-year-old mod­els in Miami fash­ion shows, the gar­ments’ most ar­dent fol­low­ers are women ages 55 to 60. GWEN­DOLYN GLEA­SON, Naples Face­book, 413-374-1787 Most of her com­mis­sions these days are by re­fer­ral, but there’s an emerg­ing as­pect to her work. Glea­son’s cre­ations em­ploy or­ganic, sus­tain­able fab­rics that breathe in the Florida heat. She’s ex­pand­ing her brand by mak­ing more ca­sual at­tire, such as “beach cover-ups, wraps and tu­nics made from beau­ti­ful cot­tons and linens from In­dia.” LIA MARTINO, Fort My­ers lia­martino.com At 16, Martino was a Chanel model, launched into the in­ter­na­tional world of fash­ion. Martino started de­sign­ing for Chico’s and caught the at­ten­tion of then-CEO Cinny Mur­ray, who cham­pi­oned her art and con­tin­ues to be a best friend and men­tor. Now she’s ready to part­ner in launch­ing her own line, ten­ta­tively called Lia. “We did a lit­tle test and it ex­ploded,” she says. HE­LEN GERRO, Punta Gorda ger­ro­cou­ture.com She be­gan sewing and cre­at­ing cloth­ing at age 9, which led to sketch­ing and paint­ing and trans­fer­ring those works onto her tex­tile cre­ations. To­day, Gerro oc­cu­pies space in the Ar­ti­san’s Ate­lier in Punta Gorda, where vis­i­tors can watch the artist cre­ate, per­haps se­lect a cus­tom de­sign that’s ready to wear. Gerro has a col­lec­tion of 150 of her own dresses, all unique and hand-painted.

“Life of an artist can be very tough. You must con­cen­trate 100 per­cent.” — Mari­apia Malerba

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