The sold-out status and dynamic runway scenes of the Independent Designer Runway Show on Wednesday, September 25 offered proof positive (if you needed it) that the fashion community in Seattle has hit its stride.
You were there in record numbers, the looks on the runway were exciting and relevant, and the feeling of emerging talent and support was zippering in all around us. But this was a contest, too, and contests have winners.
Between you, me, and the lamp post, there were six designers who were so strong that just a couple of points separated them. Good thing the Bellevue Collection came in at the final hour to provide two $1,000 runner-up prizes. Amazing!
Still, the judges and I had ourselves a real time trying to line up thoughts on personal branding, professionalism, personal and professional growth, and the all-important business and marketing plan—and then factor in taste, tailoring, vision, and runway wow factors. (Revisit this link for a reintroduction of our panel.)
Read on to learn more about these ten talented teams and the future of the Seattle design scene. (And check back soon; we should have a video of the whole darn thing before too long. The Bellevue Collection is on it!)
And the winner is ... leather designer Aykut Ozen. Where we all lined up was Ozen's impeccable craft, balance of references and ideas, dedication to learning and growth, and the undeniably Northwest vibe of his practical and stylish outerwear. We can't wait to see what he does next.
Is it a leap to describe runner-up Erin Roby's collection as a sort of local version of Isabel Marant; the country girl on a city day trip? By nature, emerging designers and established, "It" brands have lots of space between them, but we're all about closing that gap. Conceptually, and then practically. We believe in Roby's skill, business acumen, and layering and tailoring prowess. A shirt dress under a pencil skirt over a prairie skirt? (above) YES.
You might have already seen the Paychi Guh label around town; I myself am getting ready to see runner-up designer Paychi Karen Guh's cashmere short pants (above) in my own closet. Guh is in the young business sweet spot; she's already in motion but there is so much more she can do. We hope the runner-up funds will help.
Claire Kim's luxurious knitwear for her Benu Cashmere line shows the utmost level of sophistication and design direction. This is a woman who knows how other women want to look. Kim has worked for other brands as a designer; this is her foray into the at-the-helm position. With IDRS 2013 under her belt, we know she's going to continue honing in on fit, price, and scale.
Somewhere between a deceptively simple gray sweatshirt (above) and a gorgeous red cloak coat is the essence of Heather Blanchard's Sarsen. The crowd reacted so strongly to the sweet/goth vibe of long jersey dresses and sexy body-con shapes. If only they had seen the detailing and expert construction of her stock-and-trade shapes! We saw Blanchard taking orders after the show; you will definitely see more from her on Seattle streets this fall and winter.
The two designers behind Wyatt Orr might just be the best example of local designers nailing the national style zeitgeist. Leather accents, flowing free-form silhouettes, and color blocked collections are their calling card, and their scene was truly of national caliber. With stockists like Les Amis in place, Liise Wyatt and Karly Orr are already transitioning to great things.
Michael Cepress's MC is a familiar brand to Seattle style watchers—and to textile junkies and those who think and feel philosophically about the place where history and daily dress coalesce. Cepress's cross-section of '60s culture and the Far East brought a worldly narrative—and a great soundtrack—to the evening. Standout pieces: the mens' jackets (see above), which give Filson a run for the money in terms of hometown go-to's.
There were two designers who seemed placed on the runway as if to counter the warm, engineered and architectural energy of the overall Seattle landscape. Special occassion specialist Corban Harper's sequin jacket is a great example of his glammed-out run—but don't miss the counterbalance of cat-ear cap.
Similarly, Lia Pal by Liuba Palanciuc is a night club waiting to happen. Faux-fur and shimmering bedazzlement are this recent grad's calling cards. She told us that her dream is to have a boutique in Bellevue.
Trina Pierre's line Pierre is for moms who aren't exactly satisfied with yoga pants. If her knit jersey components were quiet on the runway, just wait: they'll soon have a store of their own. We'll alert you when the Pierre shop opens in the U District this fall.
(Note: There were originally eleven contestants in the show; one designer had to drop out due to personal circumstances.)