Rowe Fashion Show sneak peek with owner Maren Roth

Jillian Span Hofbauer

On Oct. 5, Rowe Boutique in the Short North will hold its eighth annual fashion show at the Columbus Museum of Art. Store owner Maren Roth shares more about the show and what looks we can expect this fall.

What inspired you to do an annual fashion show?

The idea to have a Rowe fashion show was really born out of necessity. I was always being asked to be a part of one fashion show or another, and it was overwhelming and I had no control over the creative direction of the show, so I decided to create my own event. I also felt it was really important that we had a fashion show where everyone could shop--after all, I am a retailer, not a designer, so it only made sense that you would be able to buy the items seen on the runway because they were currently in-store. After seeing the potential of the [first] show, we decided to grow the event in size and add a charitable component (the Jack Roth Fund), raising money for the fund through ticket sales.

What is special about this year's fashion show?

This year we are focusing on the Basics of Fashion; those timeless pieces that will be with you forever. We want the look and feel of the show and the event space to be cohesive, so we are having it at the [Columbus Museum of Art] in the new pavilion, which is very clean and minimal and lends itself perfectly to the minimalism of the show.

Tell us more about the fashions that night. What looks can we expect this fall?

Monochromatic dressing and lots of black, neutrals and pops of burgundy and military green. We are focusing on classic pieces by keeping the looks strong yet minimal. We are getting away from layering and focusing on the simplicity of fashion. We will have beautiful coats in neutral colors, lots of chunky knits, easy T-shirts, blouses and classic denim washes, along with some special styles new for fall. We are heavily focused on accessories all year, so of course we will have really beautiful accessories (scarves, bags, hats and jewelry) that will bring each look together.

You make getting the looks really easy for people who attend the show by offering a shopping area the night of the event. Anything we should know about that?

We love the shopping portion of the event. Our guests have the opportunity to shop before the fashion show starts, but the big shopping frenzy happens right after. We love that guests beeline to the pop-up shop to get the piece they fell in love with on the runway.

We also give every guest a look book, which has more than 20 images of additional looks we style that relate to the show, but are not actually in the show. Ultimately, guests can purchase not only everything seen on the runway, but everything in the look book as well.

Proceeds from the event benefit two charities in memory of your dad: the Jack Roth Fund for lung cancer research at the James and Jack Roth Camp Netaim, a camp for children with special needs. Why was it important to you to have charitable causes connected with the event?

I have a unique platform as a small business owner and recognizable face in Columbus. Because of that, I do feel a sense of responsibility to raise awareness for important causes. The first year after I created the Rowe Fashion Show, I felt there was an important element missing--a cause, a reason and a purpose. So the idea to marry the two made so much sense. We absolutely love that our guests want to see what Rowe is doing for fall and love the fashionable evening that it is, but we also feel it's important to have a cause supported by the event. And for me, there is no cause closer to my heart than the Jack Roth Fund.

How much money has the event raised?

In addition to the Fashion Show, we have our anchor event, the Jack Roth Rock "N" Run, a 5K race in June. Between the two events, we have raised more than $1 million that we split between both of the causes.

As we head into fall, what advice do you have for people as they shop for the season?

My advice would be, buy pieces with a little thoughtfulness behind them. Think about what you can wear it with. Is it versatile? Can you wear it a few different ways? I also feel it's very important for people to know it's OK to buy similar items. So often I hear "I have something really similar to that in my closet," but if you love that item and wear it often, I would suggest getting more things like that because you know you will wear them. Ask yourself when you are getting dressed what styles, colors and silhouettes do you feel best in, what do you always reach for when you can't decide what to wear and focus on more things like that. I would rather have the same top in six different colors because I love it and will wear it, then 20 different tops that I never wear.

OK, we have to know--is it difficult choosing your own look for the Fashion Show? How do you decide what to wear? It's so difficult and usually an afterthought because we are so crazed right up until the event. I usually decide the night or two before, unless I find something months before and save it. I think last year was the easiest because I was pregnant and I ordered 10 different things hoping one worked and luckily it did! This year I am keeping things simple. I don't know exactly what it will be yet, but I know it will be Basic-inspired.

Tickets for the Rowe Fashion Show can be purchased in advance online. General admission tickets are $75 and VIP tickets are $125.

(Photos byGail Shamon)