By: Sydney Mahl
The ninth annual Austin Fashion Week has come to a close after ten days (just call it a fashionable week). It started off with the Style Queens Premiere featuring Austin’s best fashion talent talking about Taylor Swift, a first-time black-tie event highlighting designers from Mexico at the Driskill, events were held all around town, and Ross Bennett held a rockin’ party on the Summit Rooftop (in the rain) to kick-off the runway shows.
The runway shows were three days of fun from Project Runway stars who showed collections among many local designers, in addition to special segments from UT senior design students, Ballet Austin and Austin School of Fashion Design.
The first night saw collections presented by Project Runway stars Amanda Valentine and Kelly Dempsey. Valentine competed on seasons 11 and 13, and Dempsey was on season 14. Valentine’s collection showcased color blocking and fringe in mod silhouettes like bell bottoms and mini dresses.
“I usually have these intense themes and weird historical references, and this collection I was really trying to base it on what my customers want, what I want to make and what I want to wear,” Valentine said. “It was a pretty pragmatic collection, which I ended up liking the most.”
One of the most notable looks from her collection was a long-sleeved, color blocked mini dress. In teal, royal blue, red and black, the dress was a perfect mixture of modern times with a 70s influence. Other looks were bold black fringed dresses and skirts in varying lengths.
Dempsey’s collection, Rack Addik, closed the show with plenty of sequins and fishnets. Her collection featured an emerging trend of pairing socks with heels, also showcased by Project Runway contestant Melissa Fleis and several other designers.
Other noteworthy collections presented on the first night were by May Designs and Pinup House. May Designs began by designing planners in bright and playful prints, but have expanded their brand by including four styles that are customizable with prints: a neoprene midi skirt, shift dress, party dress and an everyday skirt. Pinup House presented a three-piece capsule collection of velvet femme fatale dresses in fall hues like mustard and a dusty rose.
Night two started with a bang when Boudoir Queen’s collection took the stage. Featuring lace, silk and sparkle, the Victorian inspired collection had plenty of modern day glamour. Another bright moment on the runway was designer Brittany Nicole’s collection that looked picture perfect for spring. One of the top looks from Nicole’s collection was a light denim trench coat paired with a simple nude dress.
The show was closed with season 11 Project Runway star Daniel Esquivel’s powerful and politically charged collection. He featured several pieces in his custom “Resist” pink print, sending a strong and fashionable statement.
“I have preorders already,” Esquivel said of his pink “Resist” trench coat. “I’m blown away by how ladies and guys have reached out.”
Esquivel’s collection was also inspired by Victorian and gothic elements in addition to his political feelings. The Victorian theme was also embraced by Boudoir Queen and Melissa Fleis.
The final night was kicked off by founder Matt Swinney expressing his love for his bride Kara. There were celebrating their 17th wedding anniversary and surprise wedding photos on the big screen were Project Runway star Melissa Fleis’ collection. Fleis’ color palette was simple and bold in black, white and metallic teal hues, adding severity to her sharp and tailored pieces.
“The inspiration for this collection was late Victorian, early Edwardian times,” Fleis said. “I’m known for high collars and kind of extravagant pieces. I did some quintessential Victorian pieces and blended it with my modern architectural feel.”
Designer Nina Means’ capsule collection with feminine draping and tailored dresses won her the Bernina Fashion Fund, a brand new sewing machine. The show continued with season 10 Project Runway star Sonjia Williams’ collection, which featured plaids, warm camels and black and was inspired by casual comfort that can be dressed up or down.
“I finally figured out who my girl was after Project Runway,” Williams said. “I prefer making clothes that are very versatile, clothes that women can just be comfortable and confident in and feel like ‘This is who I am.’”
The show was closed by local designer Ross Bennett’s collection of stylish, printed suits with contrasting lining. Overall, it was a very successful fashion week that debuted many trends, such as Victorian influence and socks with high heels. Congratulations to all the designers who participated this week!
Congratulations to all the designers who participated this week in making the 2017 event a big success and see you for the 10th Austin Fashion Week in 2018!