Joining the Style Circuit
Milwaukee’s first Fashion Week
Fashion Week started in New York City in 1943 for trade and industry purposes only. Now it incorporates music, food and a who's who of the fashion world. The quarterly event provides a preview of trends for the next year. The fall and spring previews have become the most important, setting groundbreaking trends and drawing a wide variety of celebrities, industry insiders and media.
The grand kickoff for this year's fall preview took place in New York during the first week of September, followed by London, Milan and Paris. Now it's Milwaukee's turn.
Milwaukee Fashion Week (MFW), coordinated by Hillary Frye of Solessence and Barbara Berg of Boutique B'lou, runs from Oct. 3 to Oct. 6. With a promotional line that asks, "What does Milwaukee have in common with Sex and the City?" (Answer: Designer Gilles Montezin), MFW is raising eyebrows and curiosity.
The event will boast well-known figures in fashion and beauty, including Billy B, Syd Curry and Montezin, who designed for movies such as Sex and the City and the upcoming Confessions of aShopaholic, as well as local designers like Nick Waraksa, Jessica Catherine and Safronia Ivory, to name a few.
"The result [of MFW] cannot be anything but an immense success," Montezin says. "Look at the artists that she [Frye] has selected to participate!"
Billy B and Curry are set to enhance and stimulate Milwaukee's beauty, and Montezin, an integral part of MFW, will preview his collection as well.
"I am working to find a new fashion sense, a new mood that people would like to feel wearing clothes," Montezin says of his collection for MFW. "Right now we are in the comfortable and wearable mood… Not too stylish!
"Each century has a specific look, silhouette," he continues. "We have not found the 'look' of the 21st century yet."
Montezin's collection will show some pieces from movies that he's worked on, as well as a tribute to Yves Saint Laurent, highlighting the way the designer "showed how modern women should look according to their needs."
There's hype surrounding the show's celebrity fashion insiders, but the main focus is to "inspire people in the area that Milwaukee has something to offer," Frye says. "The city has a lot to offer. It's just not discovered. Look at the Calatrava… Art is here. You just have to find it."
"I am very excited to come to Milwaukee," Montezin says. "I am very much looking forward to seeing what the local designers have to say. I want to see the local colors."
But is good ol' Milwaukee ready for a fashion shock? Is Milwaukee ready to compete with bigger cities when it comes to fashion?
Billy B, known in the industry for Harper's Bazaar and Vanity Fair cover shoots, as well as being a stylist for events such as the Golden Globes, thinks Milwaukee is ready. "Just because a girl is in SoHo or on Fifth doesn't mean they are fashion-forward," he says. "I know some pretty fashionable people where I live in Aberdeen, Miss."
Local designer Nick Waraksa agrees with Billy B's assessment. "I think that Milwaukee is currently in its horizon of change," he says. "In other, bigger cities, you have to adjust and respond to what it has to offer. In Milwaukee, you have the ability for the city to listen to you."
This show will help to highlight local designers, allowing the industry and locals to take a dekko at their creativity. Although Milwaukee has hosted fashion shows in the past, at Mount Mary College and on Brady Street, this time it's a merger of established designers, young designers and beauty experts.
Instead of turning to New York for fashion and one-of-a-kind looks, MFW is bringing a taste of the year's new designs right here to Milwaukee.
"Milwaukee is growing very quickly right now and it's only a matter of time for surrounding cities and neighborhoods to realize that the exact same talent exists in Milwaukee," Waraksa says. "We need more of an audience to support it locally; then Milwaukee can become a town people come to instead of leave."For more information on venues and tickets, visit www.fashionbythelake.com.