POINT OF VIEW
By Allyson Marrs
Bellevue Fashion Week is an annual style showdown, but one show embraces local flare and honors all things home-sewn.
The stage is set.
Designers, both global juggernauts and talented local hopefuls, will pack the house for this year's Bellevue Fashion Week, strutting on a stage near you September 25-29.
There's always plenty to be seen by big names—Macy's, Nordstrom and other Bellevue Collection staples—and special shows to take in, such as the Fashion Forecast with Lawrence Zarian and "Vogue" magazine's Anne Vincent—but this is Bellevue's show.
The real stars are the locals.
"We really believe in the fashion industry in the Northwest," says Jennifer Leavitt, Vice President of Marketing for the Bellevue Collection. So they sent out a call, and looked at 37 designers' visions to get a sense of who they are and how they see the future of their brands.
Once the 11 finalists were chosen, they collaborated individually with Fashion Week staff on the production aspect of the show—meaning there will essentially be 11 mini shows (in terms of music, lighting and multiscreens) wrapped into one Independent Designer show.
Each designer will present a 10-look collection and the prize for the top designer includes $5,000 to help build his or her business. The winner also receives a display in Bellevue Square during October.
"This is really about supporting the independent designers. We want to have more fashion designers come out of this area," Jennifer says.
For this region specifically, fashion serves a greater purpose: function. With four seasons sometimes packed into one day, or one hour, people have to make it work. "The thing I like the most about this region is the independence and the smart way our customer goes about fashion," Jennifer says. "It's adapting to lifestyle, and more about the personal spin, where they embrace the must-haves, but in a way that fits them—in a smart way."
Sarah Butler, Fashion Events and Editorial Coordinator for Kemper Development, agrees. "It's about point of view and the importance of function in different elements," adding that people have to often go from a rainstorm into an office and still look professional.
Considering they live the life daily, the local designers are able to build around a basic need for their neighbors, fulfilling wants that other trends may not be able to touch.
For the Eastside specifically, where the majority engages in a professional life, a sophisticated social life and a busy family life, Sarah says there's always a balance between lifestyle and personality in fashion. Clothing needs to be practical.
"The way we show our personality on the Eastside is through a level of sophistication that is always understated."
Both Sarah and Jennifer add that the trends—which may be followed absolutely in other cities—are always adapted in this area to add personal touches. Natives are just much more independent because of the entrepreneurial spirit in the region, and this is reflected in their clothing choices. "They don't follow trends blindly," Jennifer adds.
This is Bellevue Fashion Week's eighth year, and the Independent Designer runway show opens the week of Wednesday, September 25, at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue at 6:30 p.m. The event is 21 and older, and VIP tickets are available for $75 and general admission for $50.
For this year's full schedule, including the signature "Front Row Fashion" show, presented by "Vogue" magazine, visit www.bellevuecollection.com/fashionweek.
Fall 2013 trends [ provided by Sarah Butler ]
Coats/Outerwear—from New York street to Pacific Northwest puffers—from chic
At-home Dressing: pajamas as fashion and fashion as lounge wear.
Discreet Chic—from '40s glam and '60s Mad Men, to today's chic woman, both career and evening.
Rock Star Style: punk-inspired, '70s rock star and hip-hop divas.
Sweaters and Shirts: twinsets, cable knits and winter-wear—sweaters shown as both style and function.
Color Connection: bright colors and color-blocking in dresses, coats and separates.
Modern Evening: cocktail dresses, gala gowns, tuxedos and evening coats.
Local Designers Selected for the Independent Designer Runway Show
by Claire Kim
Corban Harper by Corban Harper
Erin Roby by Erin Roby
Lastwear Clothing Company by Rowan Rhys
Lia Pal by Liuba Palanciuc
Michael Cepress by Michael Cepress
Ozen Company by Aykut Ozen
Paychi Guh by Paychi Karen Guh
Sarsen by Heather Ellrod
Trina Pierre by Trina Kelly
Wyatt Orr by Liise Wyatt & Karly Orr