Flashes of neon pink and purple highlighted a pristine, white, U-shaped stage on the ground floor of the Hyatt on September 26, 2012. Fashionable attendees sipped Merlot and pinot grigio, the vibrant crowd awaiting the appearance of models primed by Sephora and Obadiah Salon.
From 19 applications, a panel of industry leaders had selected eight local designers for Bellevue Fashion Week’s first ever Independent Runway Show. It was the culmination of months of work by the designers themselves, organizers and the judging panel who aimed to heighten the profile of the area’s independent designers within the fashion industry. The diverse group included two menswear designers, two handbag designers and four women’s clothing designers. Also featured among the talented group were celebrity designers Lizzie Parker and Lisa Vian Hunter of NBC’s Fashion Star fame, who underscored the significance of the event.
“To be in the fashion industry and be in Seattle, you need all the help you can get. It’s opportunities like this that are a huge help for us,” Vian Hunter said.
For all of the talent present, only one local designer would win the grand prize: $5,000 in Fashion Funds for business development donated by The Bellevue Collection, Fashion Group International Seattle Chapter and Femfessionals in Seattle. The night, it turned out, belonged to Carole McClellan.
McClellan’s winning collection featured an array of inspiring looks for both men and women. The ‘Ringmaster’ entertained in a black pinstriped jacket – short in front and long in back – layered over an intricate silken motif; the look appropriately topped off with a top hat. ‘Royalty’ was an ethereal all-white medley of fur and lace complemented by delicate pearl jewelry. Other ensembles showcased neutral-colored furs and scarves with vibrant coloring. She used leather and re-purposed fur, both of which she is known for, and also ventured into denim and other fabrics.
Celebrity designers Parker and Vian Hunter were also showcased. Parker’s collection opened the show with edgy, asymmetrical hemlines and elegant, flowing sheers combined with leggings in topaz, ruby and black/white pairings. Set against a playful, neon lipstick background, Vian Hunter featured fashions that were simultaneously reminiscent of the ’60s and modern. Headscarves, high necklines and straight lines were brought into the tech age with pops of neon and over-sized glasses beloved by the current rave scene.
Similarly, women’s wear designers Masha Osoianu and Olga Szwed brought forth elements from an earlier era. Several of Osoianu’s designs were reminiscent of the 1920s with flapper-like detailing on shoulders and bodices. Colors included navy, ruby and gold accented by neon green and orange. Szwed’s collection, La Belle Reve, featured classic looks with extensive pearl detailing. Particularly notable pieces included a daring, sheer-sided silk charmeuse and vintage lace gown with cowl neck; as well as a fitted, white strapless a-line gown with layers of organza gathered in a gorgeous petal-like fashion.
Designer Kate Mensah’s segment began with what appeared at first glance to be variations of the little black dress, but a closer view revealed rouching and sheer detailing. Black gave way to shimmering, earthy tones of moss green, floral patterns and, finally, exotic combinations of yellow and gold in dresses and backless sateen jumpsuits.
For the men, brought to us by Franciso Hernandez’s Built for Man collection and Banchong Douangphrachanh’s Bd Homme, things were a bit more muted. Chiseled chaps – some appearing endearingly nervous by the rapid pace of their gait, others smugly sexy – sported leather pants and light-washed jeans. Built for Man featured black as a staple with red and green detailing here and there. Douangphrachanh continued the masculine motif later in the show, with a mood set by Skrillex-type music and a background visual of rain on pavement – clearly a nod to Seattle’s characteristic drizzle. Male models owned the catwalk in more fall and winter fashions in light purple, navy blue and gray tones with occasional horizontal striping.
Handbag designers Jessica Park and Patricia Raskin entered the scene with fresh ideas for accessorizing. Park’s Ampersand As Apostrophe collection featured simple, yet versatile designs in gold, fuchsia, black and neutral tones. Models clad in black, form-fitting ensembles brought forth Raskin’s Anne Sylvain line, which included ostrich and alligator totes and clutches in black, grey, plum and camel.
Each designer was allowed complete control over background visuals, music and lighting, imbuing each segment with a deeper meaning around the designs.
In all, it was a dazzling night for Bellevue that set the stage for greater recognition of the Seattle area within the fashion industry. Miss A congratulates winner Carole McClellan along with all of the other talented designers who participated.