San Francisco Fashion Celebrated at Chic Fashion Week

Domonique Echeverria collection.  Photo by Herm Pugay.
“Make it happen!”  One of fashion event producer and model coach Charleston Pierce’s favorite sayings.  This is exactly what Mario B. Productions and SF Design House did as they brought back a fashion week to San Francisco on August 1st through 8th, 2010 and made it happen.  It’s been two years since San Francisco has had an organized week of fashion events and this production team came through with a week of events, Chic Fashion Week (CFW).  The team partnered with many local designers, models, stylists, makeup artists and hairstylists to produce the events, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the non-profit Until There’s A Cure.
supperclub event featuring designer Bacca Da Silva.  Photo by Quan Pham.
Over 2,000 people attended the week-long events which included the premier of Bacca Da Silva’s S/S 2011 video and collection at supperclub, a trunk show at Wonderland SF, a body art and headpiece fashion show at Artists Alley, a fashion show kick-off party at Slide featuring local designer items donated to the non-profit Until There’s A Cure, a Friday night fashion preview hosted by Charleston Pierce and Waukeen Mccoy at The Historic Four Galleries Estate, and the main fashion show events over at the San Francisco Design Centre the weekend.  
Model Amanda Bach wearing a Monique Zhang design at The Historic Four Galleries Estate.  Photo by Herm Pugay.
With only less than five months of planning, the production team was able to bring together the fashion industry community.  The main team that produced Chic Fashion Week includes Mario Benton, Acacia O’Boyle, Megan Heinen, and Janice Bailon.  Others that were instrumental in helping out and participating with the fashion week include Ava Byrd, Sylvia Idem, Rykk Martinez, Ronnie Morrisette, Charleston Pierce, Trevor Hewitt, Damien Miller, Moira Noiseux, DJ Mei-Lwun, Irene Hernandez-Feiks, Matthew Mountford, Yolanda Wright, and Maggie Alhadeff.  Pigment Cosmetics did an impressive job with the hair and makeup styling for the main weekend shows at the SF Design Center, changing the styling of the models for each collection on the runway to better showcase the designs.  Other participating makeup artists include Rykk Martinez, Sara Dashty, and Kimberly Merril.  Body painters for the Artists alley event were Celeste Young and Trina Michelle.  Salon Blu provided hairstyling at the supperclub and Artists Alley events.
Makeup Rykk Martinez getting a model ready for the Artists Alley fashion show.  Hat by Miss G. Designs.  Photo by Ken Shames.
Event organizer Janice Bailon commented, “Putting on a fashion week is HARD!  It’s a great undertaking and a tough balancing act of egos, ideas, and attitudes.  There was a lot of stress, sweat and tears put into this one, but it will always be that way.  Fashion has always been known to be dramatic in some aspect; that’s why we hate and love it at the same time.  But we did what we set out to do, and I believe did it in a way the past attempts were not able to do before.  I was talking to one of our event partners and they said, “You guys have been able to accomplish what people have been trying to do for years.  You’ve brought together a community whose networks may not have overlapped and made them work as a team to put on this event.  Congratulations, because you guys have really done it in bringing the community together.”
Eel & Ermine dress, hat by Kitty Andrews Millinery at the Slide fashion show.  Photo by Jacques IPhotographer.
Sixteen designers showcased their collections at the Established Designers Fashion Show on Saturday evening, ranging from formal gowns and evening wear to casual wear and swimwear.  Designers featured include SWATI Couture, Daniel Sudar, Fab Heart, Amour Vert, Miranda Caroligne, Miss G. Designs, Magdalena Trever, GB Shrive Designs, Tosca Soraya, Kitty Andrews Millinery by Melissa Bolin, Domonique Echeverria, Invisible Hero Industries, Shekhar Rahate, KNG Clothing, Alexandria Van Bromssen and Danielle Pettee.  The Sunday Emerging Designers Fashion Show featured Candice Cuocu, Malin Namita, Kara Emily, Medium Reality, Anya Tatarenko, Constance Ng and Rock Chiq.

Janice Bailon commented “The feedback that we have been getting has been amazing.  Fashion Week is a commitment- long days, hard work.  We make this sacrifice in order to best exhibit the art and talent of those who set the precedent of what fashion in San Francisco is.  The week was beautiful and in our eyes a big success.  It gave everybody an opportunity to partake in fashion in a different way each night.  This is definitely a huge event and a big deal and I am confident San Francisco hasn’t seen the last of this fashion week.  We as a community are finally ready to have an annual event to call our own.”

Several people within the fashion and art industries of San Francisco who were at the events provided feedback on their favorite designers and other comments on Chic Fashion Week: Thom Scher, Fashion PR Executive and Producer of Charity Fashion Show; Merkley???, artist; Irene-Hernandez-Feiks, owner of boutique Wonderland SF; Owen Buenaventura, Fashion Creative Producer.

Question:  What were the highlights of CFW?
Thom:  “The Established Designer Showcase was the highlight of Chic Fashion Week.  The event brought together a great audience, a great venue, some of the most popular models, and some of the best designers in San Francisco.  It was a total celebration of the SF Fashion Community.”
Merkley???:  “Well, I only attended a few events and I’m not sure that all of them were officially part of CFW.  I wish I had known about more events because fashion is so fun, even when you hate it, it’s fun looking down your nose at the bullshit :)  But I loved the show at the Design Center.  Lots of talent in this town.  I thought the event was also very skillfully executed and of course I beamed with pride for my good friend Domonique and my other friends on the runway.”
Irene:  “I loved Domonique’s collection Saturday.  I think she has grown so much and she is so young.  She will be so amazing.  I like how she thinks and how she does her own think and she does not resemble anyone.  She designs with her heart.  She makes what she loves.  Not interested in pleasing anyone.  It was great to see her in in a real runway.”
Owen:  “This photo definitely tells a thousand words.  This defined the audience of SFCW.  Not to toot our own horn.  
Designer Bacca Da Silva, Owen Buenaventura, Mss Vee, Michele Gates and Thom Scher.  Photo by Ed Jay.
For fashion, Domonique Echeverria’s concept and execution was more NYC than SF, but I liked it and it elevated the whole night with edgy fashion.  Production wise, it’s well put together (music, model and look sequence/line up).  Tosca Soraya, is she local?  (writer’s note: she was and is currently living in Paris for her MFA) Her collection is unified and definitive.  I like the range of what she could do with the fabric of her choice.”

Question:  What were your favorite collections and top 3 to 5 memorable looks?
Thom: “I absolutely loved the collection SWATI Couture displayed.  It was cohesive, clean, wearable and still glitzy.  Swati really kicked the event off right — Her collection was my favorite ones displayed. 
SWATI Couture collection.  Photo by Michael Vu.
I was impressed with the newer pieces from Danielle Pettee.  In a really short time she has really developed her eye as a designer, and she continues to be innovative while staying true to her fabulous party dress roots. 
Danielle Pettee dress.  Photo by Ed Jay.
Alexandria von Bromssen put on the best runway presentation with her perfect music choice (Veronika by Tricky) as models interacted with Bad Unkl Sista mid-runway; it was creative runway at its best.  Domonique Echeverria’s avant-garde collection was a total guilty pleasure, as was the sexy perfection of Maggie Trever’s bikinis. 
As for looks, Domonique Echeverria’s red cage skirt sticks out in my mind as one of the most dramatic pieces on the runway. 
Domonique Echeverria design.  Photo by Herm Pugay.
Topping that, I think that one of the best looks of the show came at the opening of Danielle Pettee’s set — the ballet dancer on point in a party dress was unbelievably perfect.  It was a reinvention of Danielle’s collection, and a brilliant one at that.”
Danielle Pettee dress.  Photo by Ed Jay.
Merkley???:  “Well, I loved Dom’s gray and red collection.  I really thought the long red train left by Mani was a great runway moment. 
Model Mani Motajemi in a Domonique Echeverria dress.  Photo by Ed Jay.
Model Mani in the Domonique Echeverria dress with long train.  Photo by Harry Romana.
I also really liked the high contrast black and white collection by that girl with the tiny hat (Writer’s note: Tosca Soraya).  I always forget her name, but she is a benefit to fashion and San Francisco.  I need to find out who did all those black and white shoes in her collection.  They were pretty fantastic. (Writer’s note: Tosca designed and produced all the shoes).”
Model Nash Johnson in a Tosca Soraya design and Kitty Andrews Millinery Hat.  Photo by Herm Pugay.
Irene:  “Top 3-5 memorable looks? Loved Domonique’s gray chiffon dress, that look very conservative but it was very sexy at the same time.  
Model Shai White in a Domonique Echeverria dress.  Photo by Michael Vu.
Loved her other long chiffon dress. 
Domonique Echeverria dress.  Photo by Harry Romana.
I love many of Alexandria pants and the white top that was white and kind of backless.
Model Shai White in a Alexandria Von Bromssen design.  Photo by Ed Jay.
I really love a hat that was navy white kind of black hair.  Looked like a riding hat.  
Hat by Kitty Andrews Millinery (Melissa Bolin) & dress by Tosca Soraya.  Photo by Ed Jay.
Liked mamy of Melissa’s hats and I like Tosca’s jump suits.”
Tosca Soraya bodysuit and dress.  Photo by Harry Romana.
Owen:  “Those two I mentioned above.  PLUS: Daniel Sudar’s tailoring was also close to impeccable, even though it was his first collection.  I would have suggested to him to concentrate on menswear though.  We need more of it in the SF scene and it will make his collection concept and show tighter.  He needs help in the styling department.  Just ways on how to present his design in a fashion show.
Daniel Sudar collection.  Photo by Harry Romana.
First item I liked was GB Shrive Design’s nipple baring black dress worn by model Kara Emily. 
Model Kara Emily in a GB Shrive Designs dress.  Photo by Herm Pugay.
Secondly, Daniel Sudar’s long coat:
Daniel Sudar design.  Photo by Harry Romana.
The third look I liked was SWATI Couture’s gown worn by model Shai White: 
Model Shai White in a SWATI Couture gown.  Photo by Harry Romana.
Fourth look was Tosca Soraya’s and Kitty Andrews Millinery ensemble:
Tosca Soraya dress and Kitty Andrews Millinery hat.  Photo by Harry Romana.
Question:  Did you have any memorable moments of CFW, not about the fashion show.
Thom:  “Mss. Vee takes the cake as a moment all to herself.  She is one of the most memorable features of the week.”
Irene:  “Loved the energy of the kids on the runway and the kid s playing music.”
Pre-fashion show entertainment.  Photo by Michael Vu.
Question:  Were there any benefits to you (i.e. networking, insights, etc.)?
Thom:  “Chic Fashion Week did a great job of bringing people from across the industry together.  I certainly networked, saw some new talent (Anya Tatarenko and Daniel Sudar are here to stay people!), and was able to enjoy myself in celebration of SF Fashion.  It was also really useful to see some of the new pieces that the established SF Designers have created.  On a personal level, the success of CFW reminded me that SF Fashion Week could be a strong fashion industry presence with the right collaboration.”
Merkley???:  “Well, fashion events are always fun, so my benefit is just enjoying this awesome city with people dressing up.  What’s not to love about that?  I almost always meet a new person on the move and being creative when I go out.  We are very lucky to live in such a great city.”
Mss. Vee wearing a dress by IIMUAHII.
Irene:  “It’s inspiring to see new designers and new collections.  Especially for someone like myself that has a store and looking for new blood.  Also it’s great because I find new people that I want to work with when I style and I really love keeping it local.  Also I am grateful they had an event at my space where people got to see our store that never heard of us.  It brought me new customers.”
Owen:  “Introduction of new designers and inspiration from the energy that SF is putting out there to have a fashion scene.”
Model Nash Johnson in a dress by Invisible Hero Industries.  Photo by Harry Romana.
Question:  Areas for improvement?
Thom:  “The midweek event calendar should be reexamined and likely adjusted to better pull outside press and buyers.  That is an overarching area for improvement if SF Fashion Week, or CFW, are to grow in prominence: buyers and external press have to be at the event.  On the event production end, a shorter and speedier main show could have far reaching benefits in terms of reception.  As we edge closer to a real return of SFFW, its important to remember that while SF can and should do its own thing, we should also look at industry standards pretty much established by the fashion weeks of NYC, Milan, and Paris.”
Merkley???:  “I’d like to see more kids involved.  I hang out with a bunch of young kids who throw together some of the most ridiculous outfits together but sometimes it seems like the organizers of the fashion events are maybe too focused in one particular demographic.  It almost seems as though some people are ashamed of certain aspects of the city and maybe they are trying to tone things down or focus too much on commercial viability. maybe too much finger, not enough pulse.  
MORE PULSE.  Get crazy basically.  More concept, less Macy’s.  Also, it would probably be a good idea to widen the promotion of the events so more freaks and weirdos hear about them and are invited.  I think a lot of fantastic people didn’t even know CFW was happening.  Too bad.
Irene:  “I think VIP could have a little better presentation.  The food was just veggie platters that were in plastic trays.  I think it would be great to get a food sponsor that can take care of that part.  I think if people pay for higher ticket price they should get what they pay for.”
Owen:  “To improve: the set design could be tailored to look more chic and enhance the presentation of the fashion side of the show; invite more editors, retailers and buyers; invite more press; consult with the designers to edit their collection.
Rock Chiq collection.  Photo by Ken Shames.
Question:  Overall thoughts about CFW?
Thom:  “San Francisco Fashion Week has a long and troubled history with limited success; Chic Fashion Week was a very legitimate step towards fixing that.  It brought together key industry figures, showed that events like this can be successful, and did so while staying true to The Bay.”
Merkley???:  “Lets massage this town and turn it into the fashion mecca it should be. Fuck LA.  Fuck NYC.  San Francisco POR VIDA!”
Irene:  “I love and will always support people that will help our local talent get exposure and business.  I am proud of all the efforts they made to make this happen.  I think they did a good job.”
Owen:  “I would like to commend Mario B. and all the production crew for putting effort and time and dedication to have two nights of fashion production at the Galleria SFDC.  I know how hard it is to produce a fashion show and I give much props to those who work hard in this industry.”

Mario B. Productions and SF Design House made Chic Fashion Week happen.  Not only were they able to host a week of fashion events, but they brought exposure and additional funding to the nonprofit Until There’s A Cure.  Megan Heinen of SF Design House commented “We definitely want to take what we learned from this year and build our next.  There will be slight restructuring, but we are definitely building something that should grow with time.”