As most of you already knew, I was asked to be the social media point person for the West 18th Street Fashion Show this year. Starting in February I had the chance to sit in on meetings with the producers and listen a lot, but occasionally offer an opinion too. It’s amazing the work that goes into making the show happen, and I am not even talking about all the work the designers do. The network of people the producers of the show bring together is impressive and was at times overwhelming to this newcomer.
Of course live tweeting, Instagramming, and Facebook posting during the show were a gigantic part of my responsibilities. Aside from sitting front row, my favorite part was interacting with the fans and sponsors of the show, and finding out how much Kansas City loves the show. Now in this post I chronicle my thoughts on the show overall, as someone who also had a little insider info as to what was going on behind the scenes. Here I show my favorite looks from all 18 designers, and yes, I found something to love from everyone.
The majority of these photos are from the show’s official photographers, Tiffany Matson, and Landon Vanderschmidt. As you can guess, this is a really photo-heavy post — sorry for all the scrolling you’ll have to do, but trust me it’s worth it!
Annie Cherry and Damian Blake did a great job kicking off the show, as I knew they would. I think it’s nice that the show had a light hearted start to it this year. You can’t see them in this shot, but Victor & Penny plus Mark Southerland’s Snuff Jazz and guest Helen Gillet were amazing throughout the show!
I heard from people I spoke with that this year’s show featured more looks that were actually “ready to wear”. I think that’s such an interesting observation on the evolution of the show, and I agree that a lot of what I saw was definitely wearable. Not all of it was my style, and there were a few collections that didn’t immediately relate to the theme. On the other end of the spectrum there were a few that were maybe too literal, but everyone obviously worked really hard to put on a great show. Overall, the collections were beautiful and the crowd was really enthusiastic. The whole night was full of positive energy which was amazing and exciting to experience.
I was sitting in the front row for the show near the families and friends of several of the designers. It was lovely to see them there supporting their friends and loved ones, and very sweet to see how excited they were for the designers’ accomplishments. I think all creative people need that support system, and it was a terrific thing to see that in action.
Tara Kloeppel’s pieces were so feminine and sweet, but this one was definitely a show stopper. Her use of embroidery was beautiful and really well done, and on this dress the oversized rhinestones are playful and fun.
Left: Spool always features pieces for kids, and I loved the makeup on the girls, so cute! Right: Hilary Brown featured bathing suits and cover-ups. I wasn’t totally sold on the frothy bussels that they wore, but the cuts of her suits themselves were sophisticated and interesting. Her cover ups were also chic enough to be worn straight from the beach to dinner.
Whitney Matalone did a sort of 80’s meets steampunk jockey thing that was wacky but wearable, and I’d really like to see more of what she sent down the runway.
Method. I wasn’t sad to see some men on the run way, no sir. I love the casual-cool but pulled-together thing that these guys do. It’s effortless and so modern. I really appreciate how Method has carved out their niche in KC.
Left: Katrina Weiss’s collection reminded me of something the lead singer of The Waitresses might have worn — and I mean that in the best possible way. It’s like 80’s sportswear with a sassy twist that makes it a bit more sophisticated. Right: Julie Urano and Christina Asako Dougherty had some interesting pieces, but I wasn’t crazy about the knitted pieces on the lower body. They were so bulky and I don’t know a single woman who wants to make her hips look bigger. I did like when the pieces were more architectural and amorphous like the piece on the model here. The flowy high-waisted pants and diaphanous top contrast well with the chunky knit.
Left: Michelle Schmidlkofer’s collection was pretty theatrical. The strips of fabric on the model’s tops represented the movement of a jockey and horse together. Her high waisted capris were cut really well, but the fabric was a bit thin. Right: Maria Creyts collection featured several prints that didn’t relate to each other in a clear way, but the oversized, sweeping headwear was really dynamic and interesting, and I thought this blue and white print was the best of the bunch.
Left: Eli Borrowman created a collection of dirty, sexy denim that was a little country and a lot rock ‘n roll. I especially liked the patchwork image of the horse seen here. Right: Christina Darque surprised me because I expected things to be very goth, and really it was more of a Japanese, EGL, girly and sweet sort of vibe. I really dug the oversized bows despite them being maybe a tad too dramatic for daily wear. Her use of Foot Traffic hosiery that was available to all the designers was spot on for her collection.
Left: from Dominique Karwoskiand and Right: Katie Coble and Jennifer Hunt. Both of these collections showed a lot of potential, and these looks were the stand outs for me. Dominique offered up some lovely silhouettes and Katie and Jennifer chose beautiful prints and color combinations.
These two are from Brittany M. Davidson. I liked most of Brittany’s collection with the two above being my favorites. They were definitely for a younger girl with good legs. I always like the addition of pockets and appreciate the forethought that goes into including them in a design. The styling of her models — especially the hats — was some of the best of the evening. I’d love if she was able to get some of her designs produced!
Kimby Sweeny’s collection was all about drama. Her designs were gorgeous on the runway, and the photos don’t really do them justice. The bubble skirt shape appeared on several of her dresses, but this white piece on the right with the sophisticated sheer sleeves was the most refined and wearable. Kimby paired textures and patterns very well, and her silhouettes were flattering for the most part.
This was my favorite look from Andrea Long & Margie Hogue, even before the amazing reveal! I love lace, and I have been obsessed with yellow this year. This look was just so dynamic and special, and it looks vintage, but clearly the fabrics are modern. The capelet is just darling, and the styling for the collection was great.
Liz Peters’s collection was my favorite…which I bet doesn’t surprise anyone! I am trying to con her into making a version of the yellow and white one for me, sans 18th St. ribbon. I though her construction was impressive and the dresses were easy-wearing fabrics despite being more traditional silhouettes. They were just so fun, flirty and dramatic, but you could totally style any of them to wear on a random Tuesday. I love how Liz uses her knowledge of vintage fashion to inspire her pieces, it’s very fresh.
Last but never least, Birdies! I want that first model’s legs, let’s just get that out of the way. I loved Peregrine and Danielle’s choice of soft pastels and fabrics contrasted with the metal, architectural jewelry. But then even the jewelry had soft, pastel fringe! Overall the collection was really diverse but cohesive, and while the styling could have easily gone over the top, I though it was very carefully edited and beautiful.