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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Milwaukee’s Fashion Revolution

‘Galactic’ showcases the future in fabric

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A revolution is coming—and the only platform needed is a runway. The fourth annual Fashion Revolution takes it to the catwalk this weekend in a celebration of regional designers.

This year’s event will expose the remarkable creations of 12 Midwest fashion designers and continue its tradition of showcasing innovative, cutting-edge designs. Fashion Revolution’s theme for 2010, “Galactic,” challenges designers to translate their visions of the future into fabric. According to Fashion Revolution mastermind Sheena Luckett-Dodd, the events that rocked society last year (read: a tanking stock market and America’s first African-American president) played a huge factor in choosing this year’s theme.

“[There is] still a lot of uncertainty concerning our future,” she explains. “With that in mind, I wanted the designers to think out of the box: Create the uncertainty, create the unknown and showcase futuristic fashion for many of us who felt uncertain about our own society.”

The designers will display their progressive lines at the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Windhover Hall. Each year, designers and models are chosen through open calls. Many of this year’s participants are returning from last year’s show, which carried a theme of “Fashion Inspired by Cultural Influences.” Among them is “Milwaukee’s No. 1 Hooker,” Tangela Brister, with her famous crochet creations. Since Brister knits and crochets each piece, the design process can be quite time-consuming.

“A crochet dress usually takes me about five days to complete,” Brister says. “I end up working until the day of [the show].”

By incorporating crochet into her futuristic line, the Designs by Sazzy creator hopes to shock the audience with her one-of-a-kind pieces. “My motivation to be a part of this year's production was to challenge myself to push the limits further than I did last year,” Brister explains. “I don't think spectators will expect these kinds of creations from me since I am known to do mostly crochet swimsuits and clubwear.”

One fresh face to look for this year is teenage designer Chelsea Stotts, who has been designing since the fifth grade. Still in high school, Stotts knows that all eyes will be wide when her line hits the runway. “I do believe I have a lot to prove because being a teen, people probably wonder how I will interpret the theme,” Stotts explains.

But Stotts is no stranger to the methods of the catwalk. As the daughter of one of Milwaukee's best-known modeling coaches, she has been participating in shows for the past year and is a big believer in the future of the Milwaukee fashion scene.

“I feel that Milwaukee's fashion scene is much more innovative than Chicago’s,” Stotts says. “If we gave each other more support, there'd be no limits to our success.”

Another designer new to Fashion Revolution is Stacy Rogers. The Chicago native’s bold designs and edgy style have earned her quite the reputation, particularly in the Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison areas. Rogers’ line, SLR Couture, promises to be full of showstopping pieces with powerful details.

Returning to the “Fashion Revolution” catwalk for a third year will be Anna Hovet. Hovet, who is based in the Chicago area, has seen lots of success in the Milwaukee market thanks to area fashionistas who follow her progression despite the distance. Fresh from the Chicago Fashion Incubator program at Macy's, she will be displaying her “Fall 2010” collection this weekend.

Inspiring Local Creatives

Since its 2007 debut, Fashion Revolution has been stimulating the Milwaukee fashion scene and giving local fashion professionals much-needed exposure. Luckett-Dodd is optimistic when it comes to the potential of our hometown indie fashion market. She hopes the Fashion Revolution will be “uplifting and inspiring [to] other creatives to not give up and to create a more stable scene here.”

One way that Luckett-Dodd continues to encourage the creative community is by donating a portion of ticket sales to the Fashion Revolution Scholarship Fund. Luckett-Dodd established the fund in 2009 in hopes of providing both creative and financial support to local students who desire to pursue paths in the fashion and art professions.

Luckett-Dodd also opened a brick-and-mortar extension of Fashion Revolution this past fall with Boutique Revolution and Gallery (5209 W. North Ave.), which houses original art and fashion designs as well as inspirational workshops and monthly events.

“The community is slowly coming around as we begin more and more to get the word out about how this isn't just a place to shop, but a place that fosters creative freedom and humanity,” Luckett-Dodd says. “Let's get together and create!”

Fashion Revolution will take place Saturday, May 1. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 8 p.m. ReMix Dance Company returns this year to open the show. Get more information and tickets at www.thefashionrevolution.com.