RunUp to the Runway recap
Milwaukee Style Weekend was an ongoing party of beautiful people, on and off the runway. Clothing as a wearable art took center stage at the Milwaukee Art Museum this past Friday night, with a follow-up round at the Hotel Intercontinental on Saturday. In its fifth year, this weekend celebrates style and is held in benefit of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.
The opening evening of festivities at the Milwaukee Art Museum included not just sumptuous threads on strutting models, but a number of other activities to entertain guests. MAM’s current exhibition, Andy Warhol: The Last Decade, was a logical concurrence, given Warhol’s connection in the popular imagination with celebrity, fashion and all that is fabulous. Additional events included beauty advice from local salons, and for the crafty-types, the DIY area where scarves, wristlets and even pocket protectors could be made from reclaimed fabric and other materials. For those not clever enough to transform a torn T-shirt into a stylish scarf, the gift shop remained open. If you were feeling particularly perky that evening, there was a photo area to have your portrait taken and a very fruity specialty cocktail of the evening to melt away any inhibitions.
Windover Hall was packed to its sleek rafters by the time the runway show kicked off. As a prelude, Mount Mary College design students showed ensembles for popular vote. The overall tone was conservative but with clever details. Outfits were extremely wearable, but with enough verve such as pleats and decorative details to set them apart from average department-store fare.
The prance down the catwalk commenced with selections from area boutiques, included Flaire, Valentina and Goldi, with a wide array of clothing styles from each. Things got increasingly daring with the work of Ra’mon Lawrence, a recent participant on Lifetime Network’s Project Runway; he showed designs from his Spring 2010 collection. Dresses were colorful and flowing, some almost deconstructed, as though fabric barely clung together as it billowed over the body. Part of the glamour of the runway world is the fantasy that overtakes practicality, underscoring the drama and imagination.
The evening was capped off with a further departure from reality in the most fun collections, shown by local designers Shannon Lee Molter, Miranda Levy and J. Rath. Taking the theme of “Marie Antoinette meets Andy Warhol,” giant pompadours, exaggerated makeup and glam-a-go-go ruled, with the elegance of the age of Marie Antoinette reinvented in a pop/punk aesthetic. It was the most over-the-top and the most memorable.
The Friday crowd at the Milwaukee Art Museum numbered in the hundreds and ranged from eager teens to mature fashionistas (and fashionistos). The following evening at the Hotel Intercontinental seemed younger, with a more nightclub attitude and clothing to match. This evening featured “Project InterCon,” a 24-hour fashion design competition in which 20 participants used limited materials to create ensembles, and the finals of “Style Trial,” another competitive element of the weekend. The aesthetics ranged from glam-preppy (think boys with jeans and sparkly eye makeup) to futuristic nightclub sleek (shiny textures of skinny black pants and spangles).
Saturday was another fascinating night of people-watching, both on and off the runway. As is customary, the demeanor of the runway models was the same, and it’s a funny, interesting one in the studied walk and an even more implacable expression — serious, vacant, robotic. There’s a negation of personality, replaced with an attitude of übercool.
The parameters in style were broad. An interest in texture and luxe fabrics cut to show off the body were sensibilities that prevailed in most of what was shown this weekend. But then again, there were the billowy draperies of such designers as Lawrence, with something of a Greek Revivalist approach in modern fashion.
The most interesting thing about style, however, is that it is always a calculated move: to put on clothing that is explicitly meant to represent an idea, an image. As wearable art, fashion can create or conceal identity, and in the broad arrays of styles, there is plenty of room to move.
(See the RunUp to the Runway photo gallery of more fashions and beautiful people.)