Bellevue Fashion Week began with a bang, a roar, and loud music with the Independent Designer Runway Show on Wednesday, September 25, 2013. The night began with hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and a showcase of each designer’s collection. Out of 37 designers, only 10 were chosen for the runway show and were eligible to win $5,000 by the end of the night. The Great Pacific Northwest keeps in step with New York and Paris fashion – we’re not just flannel, birkenstocks, and grunge anymore.
The Bellevue Collection put on a fantastic production with loud music, a stark-white, u-shaped runway, blue light atmosphere and a sold-out crowd. The first designer I interviewed was ironically the winner of the night’s event, Aykut Ozen, a Turkish immigrant and musician by trade. Designing for four and a half years and working mainly with leather and other lush fabrics like velvet, he is completely self-taught. He designs custom, handmade leather jackets and accessories that take about 2 to 3 weeks to complete. As he becomes more popular and in demand, he is making simplified, classic versions of the same jackets, vests, and hats, that can be made more quickly and sold in stores. Like his designs, his collection on the runway began with hard rock music and a parade of models wearing his sleek, intricate designs. He has a line of hats that accompanied some of the models that were made of deerskin, velvet and fur. If you want to stand out in a crowd, you want to be wearing Ozen.
The runway then switched gears to a more simplistic, mod designers, Wyatt Orr, a designer duo of Liise Wyatt and Karly Orr. Wyatt Orr’s designs remind me of clothing that you might see in a futuristic movie with flowing fabrics with simple lines and classic colors of browns, grays, and beige. As seen in many of the collections, the uneven hemline is making its debut again.
Next up was Benu Cashmere, by Claire Kim, designs that make the slouchy sweater, cowl-neck scarves and shades of gray look sexy and feminine and appropriate in the Seattle climate. Trina Pierre’s designs followed the feminine form also, but with ruffles in unusual places, including the sleeves, the back and on coats. What intrigued me was the smoking-jacket coat that paired richness and comfort together in a practical, machine-washable way. Pierre’s designs are wind-resistant, rain-resistant, and made environmentally consciously. With black, white, and navy as the main theme of Pierre’s designs, her collection ended in a long, flowing fuchsia dress that was awe-inspiring.
MC, Michael Cepress, followed with the American flag waving on the screens, and a parade of pioneer-inspired outfits that were made feminine and chic, pioneer chic, if you will. The models came out in male-female pairs showing MC’s flexibility with both genders. While the designs were more button-upped, literally and figuratively, they still maintained sex appeal and intrigue.
Less conservative, were the designs by Paychi Guh, another runner-up in this competition, who followed next. Born in Taiwan and with a background in textiles and a former design director of Nordstroms, she dreamed of living in cashmere every day. Her collection is made up of entirely cashmere pieces including shorts, skirts, scarves and of course, the ever-popular cashmere sweater. She uses lighter-weight fabric so that it can be worn year round and because of its lushness and material, it can add simplicity, confidence, and class to any wardrobe for many years. While she wears mainly black, she makes her cashmere outfits with pops of color to add a little emotion.
Corban Harper epitomized sexy in his collection. His futuristic designs all included a peek-a-boo tease in unusual places including the sleeves, shoulders, and sides of dresses, and of course, the back. With fabric in silvers, grays, and metallics and textures of fur and velvet interwoven in the designs, it was hard to keep your eyes on anything else…it was just too pleasing to the eye.
Erin Roby, the other runner-up winner, took Little House on the Prairie and made it chic and modern. Different from MC in that she kept with the long dresses, double hems, but paired it with more flowing fabric peaks with sexy ruffles or bared backs. These were designs made to enhance a woman’s curves.
The last design was a crowd favorite, Sarsen, in that it brought on gasps and wows. Heather Blanchard, whose mother loved the 1985 Richard Donner film Ladyhawk, was inspired by the designs and feel of the movie. What’s most notable were the use of hoods in such unique and beautiful ways, that you are brought back to the 12th century and feel like you too are having a clandestine meeting in the woods with your lover.
She uses the Little Red Riding Hood hood to perfection and has such style and grace in the designs that you want to be clad in her garbs as the weather gets colder and the night shows itself sooner.
The night ended with a video of last year’s winner and advice to today’s winners – “Enjoy the win, and keep the momentum going.”
These designers are showcasing their collection for sale in a pop-up shop in Papillon pop-up shop until October 2.