Photography by Tiffany Bri
On Friday, April 29, EMP held their annual runway show that aims to support the development of emerging artists. With that being the museum’s general mission, the show hones in on the world of fashion and serves as a platform for a select few emerging fashion designers in the Pacific Northwest. This year’s designers were: Francisco Hernandez of Built for Man, Aykut Ozen of Ozen Company, Deborah Roberts of Silvae, Suk Chai of SCHAI and Tom Ordonio of Tom Ordonio. All five designers were present for the VIP meet-and-greet before the general pre-party before the runway show, as they celebrated a pretty major launching point in their fashion design careers.
The party before the show was a spectacle in itself. Similar to the crowd at the Nordstrom Designer Preview show, the caliber of fashion was at a peak with people pushing limits and standing out in a crowd full of already unique looks. Each designer had select pieces available for guests to look at during the party, making everyone even more excited for the show to come. The runway event also benefitted many of EMP’s youth programs, including Curriculum Connections Outreach workshops; STAR (Students Training in Artistic Reach), which supports and coaches young music ensembles; Teen Artist Workshops, Creativity Camps for Kids and Sound Off!, the PNW premiere 21-and-under battle of the bands.
As guests were directed to their seats, the fundraising portion of the evening began. Raffle items were to die for, including two tickets to New York Fashion Week. The auctioned items were also pretty motivating for guests to raise their hands, which included two tickets to the Jimmy Fallon Late Night Show and premiere tickets to Leonardo DiCaprio’s newest flick, Devil in the White City. The auction portion was not too long, and was followed with the opportunity to donate easily—everyone in the audience got a text from the EMP with a link to a donation page. The fundraising was elegantly and cleverly done.
The evening’s host was Laura Cassidy, the Senior Editor of Creative Projects for Nordstrom and past Style Editor at Seattle Met magazine. She gave introductions for each designer as well as general archetypes including “The Dreamer” and “The Big Sister” to name a few. Laura was able to identify the role that each designer played in the grand scheme of the show as a whole and how they all stood for something that translated into their work. The first designer showcased was Deborah Roberts and her line Silvae. Silvae pieces were distinct with their hard lines and forms. In a brief video shown before the runway presentation, Deborah Roberts also communicated her love of print-making with past and present collaborations with other artists and friends.
Aykut Ozen’s line Ozen Company was heavy with leather and swagger. As a VS Style Fold alum, Aykut’s pieces were true to his iconic style yet innovative in this new line. He talked about how he is not constantly creating fashion, but only designs when he is feeling moved or inspired. There is a magic in fashion that is still just being created for the sake of art rather than the commercial side of things, which Aykut mentioned was special to him.
Designer Francisco Hernandez of Built For Man really embodied the “Innovation” aspect of this year’s show with a line of menswear that highly considers the direction that fashion is moving in terms of the reflection of the fast-paced world that we now live in. With leather suits that functioned as one-pieces, a lot of his line were things that easily could have been seen at the most recent Met Gala, where the theme was, “ManusxMachina.” His pieces were not only innovative, but also carried a hint of urban futuristic.
The Tom Ordonio line carried a similar edgy vibe with efforts to empower women. In his video footage before his runway presentation, Tom Ordonio spoke about how he strives to make women feel like superheroes when they wear his creations, since they are superheroes in reality. He has had experience designing pieces for Seattle artist Hollis Wong-Wear, the lead singer of electronic R&B trio The Flavr Blue. Her red carpet debut in one of Tom Ordonio’s pieces marked an important moment for him in terms of his dedication to fashion design.
The final designer to present her line was Suk Chai of SCHAI, whose background heavily influence her designs. Suk talked about growing up as the youngest child and a coat that she waited years to be handed down to. Her line values aesthetic excellence in partnership with longevity and comfort. The line itself utilizes garments that compel guests to want to touch, with fabrics and textures that enhanced the full looks. Her creations brought New York City and Paris to the streets of Seattle.
The whole night was organized and seamless, and managed to celebrate Seattle designers who were on the same level as globally renowned fashion names. Guests, models and designers stayed after the show to share one more drink and congratulate the major achievement of all five designers.