Independent Designer Runway Show
Photography by Jed Sarmiento
On September 23, the Bellevue Collection kicked off their 10th annual Bellevue Fashion Week, beginning with the hotly anticipated Independent Designer Runway Show. IDRS is one of the most highly regarded runway shows in the Seattle area, complete with an admirable mission to feature, promote and support up-and-coming local designers. All proceeds from the show’s ticket sales go directly to the IDRS Fashion Fund, which supports emerging designers. The top designer’s collection would win a $5,000 cash award, but for all designers involved, the ability to reach a fashion-loving audience with a complete collection is a truly golden opportunity. A talented panel of judges provides guidance to the finalists over months of preparation, then chooses the winner after all collections are presented on the runway. The panel for 2015 was Bruce Pflaumer of Michael Bruce Image Consulting, Marj Turner of Fashion Group International, fashion industry veteran Patricia Wolfkill and Amanda Zurita, the Style Editor of Seattle Met Magazine.
The eight finalists for 2015 were Daniel Ressa, Cute Like Mad by Jeanette Svensk Li, Iris Klein, Dawson & Deveraux, Dream Dresses by P.M.N. by Phuong Minh Nguyen, RO2 by Rana Ottaviani, Varsha by Varsha Agarwal and Victoria Postolit. Check out fashion writer Lisa Cole’s review of the fabulous fashion seen onstage at IDRS, and the styles we should be looking out for in the upcoming season’s PNW fashion scene.
The IDRS event coordinators brought it all together in creating a classy evening of high fashion. There was a palpable electricity in the air the second I stepped into the foyer of the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue. The elegantly decorated room swelled with upbeat music and the sound of clinking glasses and mingling. The beautifully attired guests were of all ages; I was pleasantly surprised to see quite a few young children. Anticipation was high among both the most seasoned guests and these young enthusiasts awaiting their first big fashion show.
I ran into fellow VS writer Lisa Cole. Her fifteen-year old daughter was looking fabulous in a preshow-purchased fur piece. The illustrator of all the Fashion Week illustrations Blair Breitenstein mingled amiably with guests, and was one the sweetest, most humble people I encountered that evening. She has been recognized by major names like Oscar de la Renta, The New York Times, The Today Show, Harper’s Bazaar and Lady Gaga.
As soon as the doors opened, the guests eagerly moved toward their seats. While much of the audience were trendy locals, fashion-lovers and press, some big names in the front row included Bridget Walsh, Cara Crowley (Market Stylist at Vogue Magazine), Shana Davidson and IDRS 2014 winner Deborah Roberts. Perhaps because of the growing popularity and excitement surrounding IDRS, this year the Bellevue Collection decided to add a social flair to the mix, allowing the crowd to electronically vote on any designer for the title of Fan Favorite.
Varsha by Varsha Agarwal began the show, presenting pieces utilizing all the necessary colors for fall attire. Varsha’s warm color palette, creative textiles and clean lines captured the Fan Favorite award. The young designer was vibrantly glowing as women swarmed to her style station after the show to make last-minute purchases.
In total honesty, I fell in love with every designer. All the pieces came from a place of innovation and raw talent that drive the progressive forces of fashion. The winner of the evening was Seattle Art Institute graduate Phuong Minh Nguyen of Dream Dresses by P.M.N., whose collection featured bridal dresses that looked straight out of a fairy tale. Starry-eyed audience members drank in the full-length gowns with intricate detailing and embroidery.
There is typically just the one first prize winner, but at the show’s end, the panelists confessed their struggle to choose just one. They surprised the crowd by announcing Varsha Agarwal as runner-up, including a $1,000 award.
The IDRS has the potential to kick-start a designer’s career in a single night,making it a pivotal event for the region’s fashion industry as a whole. Tickets are selling out earlier and earlier every year, and if you love fashion and the emerging culture around Seattle, next year’s IDRS is not to be missed.
Posh Party Trend Show
Photography by Tiffany Bri
The second big event of Bellevue Fashion Week was the Posh Party Trend Show on September 25, featuring a special appearance by stylist, designer and entrepreneur Rachel Zoe. Posh Party Trend Show raises money for Bellevue Lifespring, a charity that aims to “feed, clothe and educate” the children of Bellevue that are living in poverty. This event is a gold standard of a fundraiser, whose integrity only heightens its fashion show prestige.
The set up for Posh Party was similar to IDRS, but had fashion and beauty stations pampering guests during the pre-show. Stations included nail color changes by InSpa and Truce Spa, blow-out and styling stations by Aveda and Obadiah Salon, chocolate tasting by Jcoco Chocolate, makeup applications by Macy’s, and a Photo Booth by 425 Magazine with special styling by Michael Bruce Image Consulting.
There were many familiar faces from IDRS as guests took their seats, and Vice President of Marketing at the Bellevue Collection Jennifer Leavitt once again started the evening with a lovely introduction. A wildly cheering crowd welcomed Rachel Zoe onto the stage, the fashion icon looking appropriately posh for the party in an all-black outfit with sleek heels and an ultra trendy jacket worn off the shoulder. Hot off the heels of New York Fashion Week, Zoe spoke on how the evening’s imminent show was lengthy and packed enough to be a real fashion show. “I don’t think Karl Lagerfeld ever did that many looks,” she joked, her excitement infecting the Posh Party crowd.
The show presented pieces that could be purchased from Bellevue Square, all organized into cohesive themes: Glam Rock, Hardwear, Dark Romance, Good Twill, Strong Suits, Mod Squad, Grey Matters, Mix Master and Touch of Luxe. I was reminded of the Counter-Couture exhibit at the Bellevue Arts Museum during the “Mix Master” line, with pieces reminiscent of ’60s and ’70s style. (Check out the looks at the exhibit here with photos of the VIP Preview Party taken by Tiffany Bri.) I also was sitting right behind Cara Crowley, looking chic in a sweet floral outfit. While she seemed like an untouchable fashion celebrity, I loved seeing her excitedly Snapchatting and shooting photos like the rest of the guests.
Overall, the show was mesmerizing and made me so happy to be on this side of the Equinox—after all, fall is the best season for fashion, according to Zoe. After the show, guests popped back into the fashion and beauty stations, sharing their favorite runway moments and collections over coffee and dessert. The whole evening was nothing short of dreamlike, with top-notch fashion and indulgent pampering.
Though Posh Party was obviously a show focused on fashion, the creativity of the evening’s soundtrack elevated the whole night for me (and the rest of the music junkies). It’s easy to take songs off the Top 40 chart for a fashion show, as pop music molds all too easily to the fashion show vibe. But instead of cookie-cutter tunes, IDRS turned up some swanky Euro-pop beats, differentiating themselves as a show with sophisticated taste. (An organization that is savvy with fashion ought to know music and art, too, after all!) The day of the party, dance duo Disclosure just dropped their brand new album, Caracal, which I had been listening to all day, and to my greatest surprise, their track “Jaded” was included in the evening’s soundtrack. The new styles, lovely pampering atmosphere, and fun dance beats that Bellevue Fashion Week created completely surpassed the Seattle fashion standard that I have experienced. The perfect environment for those who appreciate a good party, Bellevue Fashion Week appeals to everyone who has a passion and respect for the fashion industry, and the beauty that can emerge from a successful collaboration of art, fashion and society.