Inaugural Season of Fashion Week Minnesota in Review

September 20 – 26, 2015 marked the first official Fashion Week Minnesota. 

Before FWMN, there was MNFashion- an organization that provided the local fashion community with a hub of resources and peers, produced fashion showcases such as Voltage and The Shows, and defined the official Minneapolis-St. Paul Fashion Week (MSPFW).   As the fashion community grew, MNFashion was no longer able to do what they were formed to do, and more independent designers produced their own shows.  MNFashion dissolved shortly after I moved to Minnesota, so I am not able to speak to fashion in Minnesota before this.  I can say that it was clear at last summer’s Rally Cry: Fashion hosted by Pollen that this too was becoming unmanageable. 

Among the major discussion points at Rally Cry were how to bridge the disconnect between people who go to the shows and the people who actually buy the clothes, and to encourage designers to treat fashion like a business…because nobody is making a living throwing fun parties. 

Enter Fashion Week Minnesota – an initiative formed by “a collective of independent producers and designers with a goal of engaging the Minnesota fashion community and celebrating the best designers, brands, retailers, stylists, and producers in Minnesota fashion through a series of public events”.

FWMN excites me because there is such a large and talented creative community in Minnesota, that having a central focus week and way to connect everything will hopefully inspire collaboration and strengthen it. 

I had a few work/personal conflicts over the week, but was able to participate in most of the events.  


I AM INSPIRED

I actually won a raffle at a pre-FWMN event for tickets to I Am Inspired and I’m so grateful I did!  Hardt Jewelry and Moth Oddities had a pre-fashion week shopping event/clothing drive with raffle entries for fashion show tickets as an incentive to donate.  I Am Inspired was the only show I hadn’t already planned to attend, so I entered the raffle and ended up winning.  

Event program for I Am Inspired

Event program for I Am Inspired

The event aimed to merge art and fashion, and was in collaboration with The Art Institutes International Minnesota.  Art students had were snapping photos, created animations inspired by the boutiques, and made garments inspired by the art of Justin James Sehorn.

Sarah Edwards in a floral dress by Emma Berg. 

Sarah Edwards in a floral dress by Emma Berg. 

Event mastermind Sarah Edwards said, “We are all artists in some way. We have different jobs and titles, but we are all artists.” to kick off the night.

There was harp music as the sun was setting – it was a beautiful way to spend a Sunday evening. 

Music provided by James Buxton

Music provided by James Buxton

The runway portion included six different boutiques/brands in Minnesota, including My Sister – an organization that works to stop human trafficking and encourage other women to empower each other. 

Feminist sweatshirt from My Sister.

Feminist sweatshirt from My Sister.


#MINNSTAFASHION

A portmanteau of “Minnesota”, “Instagram”, and “Fashion”; the event was presented by The Scout Guide and the W Minneapolis Foshay hotel on Tuesday, September 22.  

The Scout Guide is available in several cities and highlights local businesses both in print and online.  Through this event, I learned that W Hotels International partner with the CFDA to create different events and garments, some of which were shown on live models throughout the night and were given as prizes in an Instagram contest.  

Scarf and beanie by Orley for W Hotels

Scarf and beanie by Orley for W Hotels

There was also a pop-up shop where some of the CFDA+W Hotels items were available, as well as items from local boutiques Merilou, Stephanie’s, and Flirt Boutique.  The pop-up shop also featured jewelry by Valerie Carpender and accessories by Danielle Sakry.

Kaftan by Misha No Noo, necklace by Valerie Carpender

Kaftan by Misha No Noo, necklace by Valerie Carpender


LARK

In order to stay true to supporting the fashion community beyond going to shows and buying clothes, and at the suggestion of Thom Navarro, I wanted to help be behind the scenes at a fashion event. 

I still made time to get in front of the camera, though!

I still made time to get in front of the camera, though!

I loved being able to work with Tim and Thom Navarro, get involved with the community, and meet great Minnesota creatives.  The event opened with a pop-up gallery showcasing editorial photos of Jagress Intimates’s latest collection, as well as a pop-up shop of Black Spoke Leather accessories, and an Instagram hashtag printer. 

Black Spoke Leather Co pop up at LARK.

Black Spoke Leather Co pop up at LARK.

The runway portion featured not only the return of TIM+THOM, but Samantha Rei’s latest collection, and a collection from a Shiader Vue – an emerging designer and recent graduate of the Art Institutes International Minnesota. 

LARK was recently voted the year’s “Best Fashion Show” by CityPages.


PLUS-SIZE POP-UP SHOP 

Bella Moxie and Cat Inspired partnered with Second Debut in St. Louis Park for a pop up shop featuring discounted pieces from plus size faves like Torrid, Ava & Viv, Asos Curve, Lane Bryant, and more - including bags, jewelry, and shoes.  Also available were tumblers and mugs from The Golden Gurl and treats from Ginger and the Kid Sweets. 

I love leather and leather look pieces, so I had to have this pleather skirt.  I found it in Cat’s “costume/costume inspiration” section, but it’s definitely something I have been wearing just out and about.  And even to work.

Pleather skirt by Venezia Jeans I picked up at the Plus Size Pop Up.

Pleather skirt by Venezia Jeans I picked up at the Plus Size Pop Up.


ENVISION

Envision is the longest running fashion showcase in the Twin Cities, completing its eighteenth season at the end of Fashion Week Minnesota.  This season saw a more direct way to encourage interaction between attendees and artists – with the return of the Hotrocity pop up and a new artist designed washi tape photobooth with live photo editing. 

Photo by Alex Butterfield, editing by Allegra Lockstadt.

Photo by Alex Butterfield, editing by Allegra Lockstadt.

Live music was joined by live dance both during the pre-show party and at intermission, making the evening a full immersion in the creative community, very much thanks to art gallery and event partner Public Functionary.

This season was really exciting to me as it brought back menswear designers, saw the re-emergence of my favorite Minnesota designers (namely Tessa Louise and Caroline Hayden), and some fresh talents, including one I fell in love with at RAW Minneapolis’s EXPOSURE show in April – Form Over Function

Digging this menswear look by  Russell Bourrienne .

Digging this menswear look by Russell Bourrienne.

Look from Kjurek at Envision all 2015.

Look from Kjurek at Envision all 2015.

Months later and I’m still absolutely obsessed with this jacket from Form Over Function. 

Neoprene and patent jacket by Form Over Function.

Neoprene and patent jacket by Form Over Function.


All in all, the first FWMN brought an amazing new energy to the Twin Cities fashion scene that continued on through the next season.  

Sasha Howell's "Spectacle" - A Fashion Event in Duluth

“Spectacle” was the perfect name for Sasha Howell’s first fashion centered event.  

The very first Kickstarter I ever backed, Sasha Howell’s “Spectacle” took place at The Underground on May 23, 2014.  

Duluth designer Sasha Howell and I after her show.

Sasha had a dream of hosting her own fashion show so she asked the community of Duluth (and the rest of the internet) to help.  We both knew fashion enthusiasts probably existed in the area, but it just took us a little while to find each other.

Models getting ready backstage. Photo by Nickila Photography, as part of Kickstarter donation perk.

I have no idea how she managed to put together so many looks in a relatively short amount of time, but I am absolutely amazed.  There were five different collections showcased over the course of the evening - Steampunk, Horror, Sasha Style, Burning Man inspired, and Lisa Frank inspired.

Photo of the runway at the Underground in Duluth, MN.  Photo by Nickila Photography, as part of Kickstarter donation perk.

Her background as a costume designer (for the Renegade Theater Company and College of St. Scholastica) and with theater showed not only in the detailed garments in each collection, but the choreography. Each look was “performed" down the runway, it wasn’t enough for her to send models down a catwalk.  

Steampunk

Leather, buckles, brocade, vests all representative of the style.  


Horror

Inspired by the Murder Pretty production studio she is also involved with, the Horror collection featured zombie makeup and did indeed look like something right out of a horror movie.


Sasha Style

Mirroring her own way of dressing, the Sasha Style collection had some animal print, distressed leggings, and long dresses. 


Burning Man inspired

It was also Sasha’s dream to attend Burning Man, and when it didn’t work out to attend this year, she put her energy towards making awesome costumes inspired by the festival.  

 

Lisa Frank inspired

Rainbows, unicorns, neon…everything from the Lisa Frank creations I held dear to my heart as a kid, alive on the runway.  

As soon as I saw that Sasha was looking for models, I thought of my neighbor (and artist/aspiring model) Taylor Byykkonen.  Lisa Frank seemed like right up her alley, and I was right.  She even got to model a unicorn horn, like the ones she sells on Etsy.   (edit 4/12/15 - the horn Taylor is wearing is by Firefly Path - https://www.etsy.com/shop/FireflyPath)

Taylor Byykkonen.  Photo by Nickila Photography, as part of Kickstarter donation perk.

The event ended with a drag show, featuring entertainers from the Superior Flame

Entertainers from the Flame.

Entertainers from the Flame.

Here’s hoping a Sasha Howell production becomes a yearly tradition!