Fashion, at least through today’s HDTV window, seems to keep its blood pumping with the pressure of competition. Project Runway, the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund—even fashion week with its competing show schedules—all seem to pit designers against each other. “It is nice to have valid competition; it pushes you to do better,” Gianni Versace has said. And yet, last Friday evening at Seattle’s fanciful EMP Museum, 5 designers gathered as a collective to showcase their Fall 2016 collections in celebration and support of the city’s greater creative community, with notable success.
The Reveal fashion show acted as a fundraiser for the arts-based programs offered by EMP, bringing learning opportunities to low-income, disabled, as well as gifted young people of the Pacific Northwest.
“This was my first show—that’s why it was even more meaningful to do something that was not just for me, per se,” designer Suk Chai of SCHAI said. “This is an opportunity for me to give back to the creative community and support creative youth.”
For some designers, the show was also a unique opportunity to pool assets. “It’s really great to have peers that you can share resources and ideas with,” reflected Deborah Roberts of Silvae. “The non-competitive format of the show [helped] to foster that feeling of community and support among designers instead of competition.”
Laura Cassidy, former Seattle Met editor and current editor of creative projects at Nordstrom, served as a host for the event. Returning to her origins as a champion of independent fashion, Cassidy bestowed each of the 5 designers with a nickname: let’s meet them now.
Francisco Hernandez of Built For Man—nicknamed “The Dreamer”
This Cuban-born designer recently celebrated his decade-long tenure as a menswear designer in the Pacific Northwest. This is no small feat: Hernandez saw Seattle through less lucrative times, and kept his menswear brand on the map despite fashion’s general preference for womenswear. “It’s a amor el mal—loving the wrong way,” sighed Hernandez at the meet-and-greet preceding the show. “It’s like having a relationship with someone you know won’t marry you, and you wake up in pain—but you love it.” The Dreamer was concerned with the future in his Fall 2016 collection, with silhouettes referencing the form-fitting masculinity of a pilot’s uniform. His now-signature voluminous scarves also made an appearance, providing a nice contrast to the efficient fit of his garments.
Deborah Roberts of Silvae—nicknamed “The Local”
In a few short years, Roberts has traced an elegant trajectory, scoring stockists across the country as well as in Asia, all the while keeping her roots firmly planted in the Pacific Northwest. Her line, whose name translates to “of the woods,” is the result of a collaboration with Seattle artist Oliva Knapp as well as Roberts’ own sojourns out into the wilderness. Her collection for Fall 2016 is a jubilant, textured, sharp-cornered adventure in minimalism, providing much to think—and fantasize—about.
Aykut Ozen of Ozen Company—nicknamed “The Mystic”
The world can’t get enough of the ’70s, which is just as well for leather-favoring Aykut Ozen. It seems the young Turk has a thing for the Rolling Stones, and the fun-loving mischief of the scene is translated into his collection for Fall 2016. Sex and rock ‘n’ roll can be found in the slit carved into just-too-short leather miniskirts, but the careful workmanship of his jackets reveals the seriousness behind his work.
Tom Ordonio–nicknamed “The Ladies’ Man”
Ordonio coined his nickname not through a bad track record with dating women, but rather as one who holds true concern and interest in designing for the womanly form. One could compare his point of view to that of Alber Elbaz, who is also considered an ally to stylish women everywhere. Ordonio’s line provided a satisfying range of options, from workplace-friendly to art gallery-adventurous, all in that ever-flattering shade of noir.
Suk Chai of SCHAI–nicknamed “The Big Sister”
This may have been Chai’s debut show for SCHAI, but she’s no stranger to the scene—20 years in the industry have rendered her inspired but wise, eager but savvy. Her Fall 2016 collection delivered looks that were voluminous without being bulky, monochromatic yet breathtakingly intricate. Big sister, indeed—we were all looking up to Chai by the end of the evening.
All in all, EMP’s Reveal Fashion Show acted as more than a fundraiser and showcase of Pacific Northwest talent—it served as a reminder of the importance of nurturing a creative community, and that by sharing and collaborating, everyone is elevated even higher.
Images courtesy Brady Harvey and EMP Museum.