Sustainable Style

About Those Fashion Shows

What are they, why are they and where can you find them in town.

By - Mar 13th, 2014 04:54 pm

What is a fashion show?

According to Wikipedia, it’s “an event put on by a fashion designer to showcase his or her upcoming line of clothing during Fashion Week. Fashion shows debut every season, particularly the Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter seasons. This is where the latest fashion trends are made. The two most influential fashion weeks are Paris Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week… both semiannual events.”

“In a typical fashion show,” Wikipedia goes on, “models walk the catwalk dressed in the clothing created by the designer. Occasionally, fashion shows take the form of installations, where the models are static, standing or sitting in a constructed environment. The order in which each model walks out wearing a specific outfit is usually planned in accordance to the statement that the designer wants to make about his or her collection. It is then up to the audience to not only try to understand what the designer is trying to say by the way the collection is being presented, but to also visually deconstruct each outfit and try to appreciate the detail and craftsmanship of every single piece. A wide range of contemporary designers tend to produce their shows as theatrical productions with elaborate sets and added elements such as live music or a variety of technological components like holograms, for example.”

All good, let me add a thought: It’s great to have a well-produced, well-attended, sleek show but if it lacks innovation and creativity then it begins to feel like a carbon copy or knock off. Dior is a great example of a company that uses virtually the same silhouette from the fifties but stays fresh by dramatically reinventing the rest season after season. I enjoy that a designer can share ideas of personal expression through clothing as a visual biography of a person. Fashion shows help to differentiate between the style and personalities of designers and their target markets.

Fashion week is the sharing of ideas for two major groups, the press and buyers. Before 1993 there was a collection of dates in New York City referred to as “Press Week” that first gained momentum in the mid 1940s, however there was no unified location. In 1990 the ceiling at a Michael Kors show caved in from the rumbling sound system. It was then that New York Fashion Week founder Fern Mallis initiated the plan to bring all of the shows to one place.

Milwaukee’s fashion scene luckily has had no ceiling cave-ins but we do suffer from a lack of unified shows. I hope with this column to create an ongoing calendar to keep enthusiasts informed of any fashion shows and events. Having a clear view of the full fashion schedule and advance notice allows the press and fans to attend multiple shows and have easier access to those producing it. This visibility, as you will read below, is agreed upon by many members of the local fashion community. I asked them, “What is a fashion show and what makes a successful fashion show?” and here were some of their answers:

“Fashion shows SHOULD be about the promotion of fashion ideas in a fun and exciting way. A successful fashion show always has good lighting, graceful cat-walkers, and fantastic clothing designs that inspire.”

-Stylist Bjorn Nasett, who writes the Fashion Farmboy blog.

-“I see them as a chance to forecast trends for the current and next season. I like to see which trends from international shows translate into Milwaukee or Chicago’s local style. Also the shows are the best way to network with other people in the industry. A successful fashion show is advertised heavily beforehand. It needs to be built up as an event not to be missed and well attended. And during the event it should get a lot of coverage from photographers and bloggers. The photos and blog posts following the event can help build up excitement for the designer’s next show and reach a larger audience.”

Aimee Piatek Blog Writer

“A fashion show is a ‘final’ production showcasing a designer’s work. It is a way for a designer to show off their entire collection with a live production. There is not an all-encompassing way to show fashion because it is an individual experience. Therefore, the director has free reign to showcase their work in any manner of entertaining ways. A successful fashion show runs smoothly with every performer in the production doing exactly their part to make the event go off without a hitch. A successful show is also well attended by other fashion conscious people.”

Amanda Mills of Sunshine Acid and Cocoon Room

“For designers, [a fashion show is] an opportunity to debut their current collection to fashion journalists, buyers, bloggers and other influential individuals in the fashion industry. Local fashion shows provide an opportunity for designers to raise their profiles within their market and cultivate brand loyalists. I think any show that brings a designer’s vision to life is a successful show. Designers put their heart and soul into their collections, and we are lucky to be able to view the fruit of their labor.”

Jordan Dechambre Stylist and Former fashion editor of M Magazine

“A true fashion show, to me, can be clothing meant to be worn in real life or something of a fantasy. The presentation is an event, whether it’s a traditional catwalk runway show or a new concept. It’s meant to show the world what a designer/artist has to offer. It allows us to take a walk in the story the designer is telling, and even take part in it by wearing their brand — feeling inspired and imagining yourself in that outfit and who you are going to be when you put it on.”

 Lynee Ruiz Freelance Stylist, Hair and Make Up Artist

In the next week there will four exciting fashion shows in Milwaukee:

Haute List

Haute List

The Wisconsin Art Institute presents their second annual “Haute List” this year themed “Break the Rules” The show will be presented at The P.H. Dye House on Saturday March 15th.6:00pm-9:00pm

Timothy Westbrook (Yes, that’s me), a fashion presentation entitled LEGACY. Wednesday, March 19th, Pfister Hotel, doors open at 7:30 and it is only $15 a seat. FACEBOOK PAGE  – FACEBOOK EVENT – PURCHASE TICKETS

Sanctuary, the spring collection of Silversark by Stephanie Shultz. Friday March 21at the Hot Water Wherehouse. Doors open at 8:30 and general admission tickets are available for $15. FACEBOOK PAGE – FACEBOOK EVENT – PURCHASE TICKETS

You can purchase combined tickets for Legacy and Sanctuary for $25 at EVENTBRITE.

And to cap off the week head over to OAK MKE for a American Apparel fashion show presented at 7:00pm Saturday March 22nd.



0 thoughts on “Sustainable Style: About Those Fashion Shows”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Interesting article — but the title is a little misleading. I thought this was going to be about fashion with a commitment to environmental sustainability! Maybe next time?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hey there Jennie,
    Thank you for your reply! This column will cover topics regarding fashion people and events in the Milwaukee area as well as sustainablity as it pertains to daily rituals, life, and fashion. Thank you for reading this week and I look forward to sharing more eco-centric thoughts with you soon! 🙂

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hi Timothy! Thanks for wanting to unite the fashion scene in Milwaukee (and you’re the one to do it, now that we’ve all seen you on Project Runway!). I like the idea of also communicating to us, the audience, with a calendar of events. After all, fashion IS art (I noticed in a recent Scholastic Awards show at the Milwaukee Art Museum that fashion pieces were now being given awards along with paintings and sculptures and craftwork, and they should be!) I also admire your creativity and your more-than-the-runway style! Bravo!

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