Nothing like a little competition for injecting some excitement into an evening. 

Style supporters and fashion partiers were ready to kick off the seventh annual Bellevue Fashion Week no matter what, but with the first ever Independent Designer Showcase and its promise of naming the top standout leading the way, there was an extra something something in the air the Bellevue Hyatt on Wednesday evening. 

Along with three other distinquished panel members, I've been working since June to help prep the eight local designers who made it to the final round. To the Bellevue Collection's great credit, this unprecedented local project is not just a runway affair with a block of cash at the end. The whole thing was structured to provide feedback, mentorship, real world perpsective, and industry knowledge to the area's best wardrobe fixers. 

In this way, the Bellevue Collection and you (it was a sold out show thank you very much!) are truly growing the local scene. 

It's fitting then, that the winner is a veteran member of the scene. Carole McClellan, whose work we've included in past Seattle Met fashion editorials, is almost an icon, actually—but more to the point she's staying relevant and making her pieces new. She outfitted Heart and others back in the day, but today she works with washable, stretchable leathers and recycled materials and collaborates with other local artists to move everybody forward. 

And everyone did move forward. 

Here's a few examples of how the Independent Designer Showcase brought awesomeness to all the designers:

-Francisco Hernandez of Built for Man met a guy who wanted to fund his next solo show (are there angel investors in the aisles at every runway event? I need to remember to look out for them)

-Lisa Hunter of Vian Hunter met a showroom rep—and her goal is to get into wholesale

-Lizzie Parker, who is chin-deep in on-air prep with QVC (yep, forget about buying online, now you can buy on TV), was literally tapped on the shoulder by one of the big-time visiting fashion execs who wanted to wear one of her runway looks while she's in town

-this just in: Jessica Park of Ampersand as Apostrophe was asked to bring bags to a group from Vogue who are in town for the show; a few of those New York City gals needed an It bag for themselves!

To meet McClellan and have a look at some standout runway moments, check out the slide show above

To catch more of the local fashion week action, put on your best fall look and get to Bellevue. The fun continues through Sunday, September 30.