Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About RVA Fashion Week 2013
Originally run on RVAMag 4/26/13
Starting next week, Richmond will be taken over by the fifth annual RVA Fashion Week, seven days packed full of events in which local designers come together to showcase their wares and let the city and the international fashion community know exactly what’s happening in the world of RVA Fashion. This year’s schedule of events showcases a wide variety of different styles and sensibilities, and features everything from a Trina Turk trunk show at Saks Fifth Avenue’s Stony Point Fashion Park location to a DIY showcase of local fashion designers taking place in a warehouse in Scott’s Addition. Every level of Richmond’s fashion world will be on display, from the most upscale designers to the gritty urban feel that characterizes RVA’s thriving street-level fashion scene.
In order to bring you the lowdown on all the happenings with the fifth annual RVA Fashion Week, we caught up with the team behind this epic event to find out how it started, what goes into planning it, and how it has grown since its inception in 2009.
When did the first RVA fashion week start, and how did that collaboration come about?
Joey McCullough (Executive Producer/Founding Member): It originally started with an idea that Jason Primrose came up with. Basically, we had this grand idea to portray fashion in Richmond, so we came together as friends and students from VCU and did a rough, rugged, low-key fashion week. Originally it started in bars, clubs, and restaurants, because they would donate their space to us and give us whatever we wanted. It was like, “Oh yeah, you’re bringing people here? Cool!” Then, each year, we’ve tried to step it up a notch and utilize different locations around Richmond, as well as different designers and different boutiques. We’ve got a lot of crossing boutiques that have been with us since year one, and the Carytown boutiques have supported us from the beginning. We’re very thankful for their continued participation. Jason wasn’t sure about moving into the next year, but we convinced him to continue it on, or at least allow us to continue it on. He is still the founding father of [RVA] Fashion Week.
How has it grown to where it is now?
Joey: It’s grown from being a small, invite/friends-only event, and has legitimately reached fashionista clientele. It has gotten into the fashion industry within the city due to the boutiques talking about it, friends talking about it, our participants blogging about it and mentioning it. We’ve not only reached the Richmond market, but now we’ve gone outside of that market. It’s brought people from surrounding counties into the area to come and see a fashion show, which is unusual. There’s not a fashion show every day. I think we’ve created a centralized and focused, RVA-specific fashion week that puts out the RVA brand, and puts out what Richmond has to offer via fashion. It may look like a C city, but we can be comparable to an A city, you just have to know where to look and where to find it.
How does it compare to other cities and their fashion weeks?
Joey: We did study other cities, but most are on a much larger scale. We don’t have the resources to support what they can bring and do, but I think we make do with everything that we can.
Jimmy Budd (Executive producer/Founding Member): In terms of fashion week accelerating, the first two years were more grassroots. We centered it more through the nightlife scene because that’s where all of our friends and support were. I think that [Richmond] was on the radar a little bit, but they wanted to see if we could actually produce good events and quality productions.
What is fashion in Richmond?
Joey: I think Richmond is a melting pot of so much different unique and individual fashion that you can’t put a label to it, where [in] most [cities] you can–they have their cliques, they have their circuits, they have the way they go. But I think Richmond’s just all over the place.
Jameson Deloatch (Fashion Director/Show Director): There’s definitely an undiscovered fashion base in Richmond, and I think that this has given those people an outlet, especially at the younger ages. VCU [has] allowed people who are not necessarily fashion design students to be able to have an outlet, to be able to showcase their talents as far as design and fashion production, and [their] overall love for fashion in the area.
Do you think that Richmond has a certain look?
Emily Gale (Assistant PR Director): Richmond doesn’t have a “look”, it’s maybe a feel. But it’s more artsy. Like Joey said, it’s a melting pot; there’s not a specific look, there’s no specific style, you can walk down the street and see one outfit ten different ways. It’s very eclectic and it all has to to do with where the city started. Then you bring in the revival of youth culture because of VCU and how that has elevated the city, not necessarily in like a tacky, student thrifty kind of a way, but it’s brought in a new culture. It’s kind of like Lord of the Flies when you’re walking around in Richmond [...wait, what?--ed.]–everyone’s [in a] similar age group, they have a similar goal set in mind, to get up and do something bigger. That resonates with the way people dress. Once you discover who you are in Richmond and where you stand and where you’re leaning, whether you’re covered in tattoos or in a sorority, or like to wear Polos, it all works.
Jameson: It’s definitely a refined classic fashion sense in Richmond, as well as the punk rock, so I think that’s where we go when we say it’s so diverse. Your best friend could be wearing pearls and you could be wearing spikes.
What kind of charity or other organization work you have done?
Joey: We have worked with the SPCA and other local charities – always trying to showcase, promote, and highlight as much of Richmond as possible.
Emily: We are all volunteers here, so being as involved as we can be with the community is a big thing. It’s building awareness, not only for us, but being able to benefit causes.
Erin Brennan (Director of Marketing & PR/Founding Member): Last year we teamed up with Cinderella Dreams, and [we're doing so] again this year. They provide gently-worn prom dresses to girls who can’t afford them otherwise. I don’t know if we broke a record, but the amount of dresses donated in two hours was awesome. We have a community outreach team that researches and connects with organizations that we can benefit, [and] if it has something to do with fashion or apparel, then [that's] even better.
Jimmy: Additionally, we’ve worked with Richmond Animal League. We dressed dogs, put them up and down the runway like models, which was pretty cool. In 2010, we participated with VCU Massey Cancer Center, and in 2011 we worked with the Children’s Hospital and Catwalk for Kids.
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty now and talk about who makes the decisions about the designers. What designers are you working with for 2013, and what decisions do you make when looking for these designers?
Jameson: Lena Cottom, assistant director, and myself [are in charge of picking designers]. When having the designer call, we like to focus a lot on designers who have complete and cohesive lines. We have Vizcaya, an up-and-coming swimwear designer, so we do like to showcase all the different kinds of fashion you can find in Richmond. Cecily Habimana of Simply Cecily focuses a lot in the African and ethnic type garment [segment] of fashion, so you can kind of see we have. Low, high, left, right–just a completely diverse show overall. We also like to focus on designers who might have been just starting, as well as designers like Laurianda Clothing Company, who actually produces and works with manufacturers. It is the goal of fashion week to have buyers attend our shows and purchase our garments designed by the designers, so that everyone in turn can grow and prosper from the organization. So we’re very excited about the designers that we are presenting in this year’s showcase.
Here is a complete list of the designers in this year’s showcase:
Kamala Bhagat (Soul Rebel Richmond)
Brittany Covington (Wild Wild Woman)
James Wiliams (RONG)
Laurianda Christina Jenkins (The Laurianda Clothing Company)
Cecily Habimana (Simply Cecily)
Jennifer Carpenter and Mindy Mizelle (J. Carpenter)
Candace P. Parrish (Coeur du Rouge)
Amanda Campbell (ABLE)
Michelle S. Ramon (Belladona)
Lisa Opie (Vizcaya Swimwear)
For more info about this year’s designers, click here.
So the trunk show has been a popular addition–what is in the trunk this year?
Ciera Pope In previous years, we’ve just had jewelry shows. This year, we’re planning on having a New York-style trunk show where we’re incorporating tons of different vendors from different avenues. We’re actually going to have the trunk show at the observation deck above the City Hall building. The goal is to have 50 different vendors, and that will include jewelry designers, clothing and makeup designers, and food vendors. Also, Red Bull [will be there showcasing their] national campaign where you build wearable art out of flavored Red Bull cans. We want to have a lot going on, so we’re also going to have a team of people set up throughout the show giving tutorials on hair, makeup, and the basic essentials of how to change your look. We’re hoping for it to be a much bigger event than it has been in previous years, [since] it [now] caters to more than just jewelry designers. It’s more engaging.
[To see the complete list of vendors included in the City Skyline Kick-Off Trunk Show,click here.]
is there any part of the overall week that you guys are really excited about?
Joey: The idea for this year, which is year five, is to try and spread it all the way across Richmond and give fashion individual homage in each area. I personally can’t say that one show is better than the other, because there are going to be different elements to different locations, a different style to each–it’s all individual and unique. We also have a big historical fashion piece at the Valentine Museum curators show. They are taking all their artwork and all their pieces and putting them on display. It’s basically showcasing fashion of the times, from the last hundred years up to the present; how it transpired from Victorian and Civil War era up to the Vietnam War, [etc.].
Emily: I think what I’m really excited for is how the city is getting really involved this year. They’re taking what started five years ago and putting it all together onto the platform that keeps with the integrity of this entity and the city’s own entity… which is really what might have been in mind five years ago. That’s what Richmond is, it’s just growing.
Here’s the full calendar for RVA Fashion Week:
Sunday, April 28: City Skyline Trunk Show (Kick-Off)
Tuesday, April 30: Warehouse Fashion Show
Wednesday, May 1: Designer: Tina Turk @ Saks Fifth Ave, Stony Point and The Artful Wedding with Style Me Pretty
Thursday, May 2: Carytown Fashion Showcase
Friday, May 3: Designer Showcase
Saturday, May 4: Valentine Richmond History Center & Textile Gala
For full details on events, visit RVA Fashion Week’s website at:http://www.rvafashionweek.com/
By John Reinhold
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