In the midst of a snowstorm, on perhaps the most exciting day of her life so far, 16-year-old Kate Walz sent 30 models down a runway at the W Hotel in Manhattan in gowns, dresses and separates she'd designed over the course of her short and successful fashion career.
The Feb. 8 show was part of the frenzy of official and not-so-official activities that make up New York Fashion Week, one of the world's premier events in the industry.
Walz's models wore the flirty pink and red party dresses she showed at Omaha Fashion Week in August, the purple, black and white collection she showed in Omaha the February before. And she showed 12 brand-new looks in shades of red, black and champagne that were inspired by 1960s New York.
Walz, a sophomore at Millard North, was nervous for the show — her first in New York. But it went off without a hitch, snow and all.
“It was exactly how I imagined it,” she said. “I was pretty happy with it.”
Walz, who took part in her first Omaha Fashion Week at age 13 with a collection of tutus, received help from fellow Omaha designers and friends when preparing for the New York show — a showcase for emerging designers called Plitzs New York City Fashion Week.
Model Alyssa Klinzing, left, clad in pieces designed by Kate Walz, hit the streets of Manhattan for a 3 a.m. photo shoot. Photo: G. Thompson Higgins
Yolanda Diaz, a local childrenswear designer, helped Walz sew some of the pieces as she rushed to get everything ready.
And Jane Round, another Omaha Fashion Week alumnus who now is studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology, met her when she arrived in New York. Round helped Walz fit the 30 models and make alterations.
Walz's mom, Jackie, and her 19-year-old brother, James, also made the trip. James helped her transport the garments and generally navigate around snowy New York.
New York Fashion Week was different than Omaha's, Walz said. It was more hectic, more rushed, more crowded backstage. Walz was a bit of a celebrity there — particularly to a group of kids from Fashion Camp NYC, a day camp for kids interested in the fashion industry.
But Walz said she still felt calm, for the most part.
“I think that Omaha Fashion Week really did kind of prepare me,” she said. “I'm really grateful for that.”
But the best part, Walz said, was when she, Omaha photographer G. Thompson Higgins, and model Alyssa Klinzing (who is also Miss Kansas Teen USA), ventured outside in the middle of the night for a 3 a.m. Manhattan photo shoot.
“That was my favorite part,” she said. “That was really fun.”
Walz will use the photos to promote her line, called simply Kate Walz. She said it was fun to photograph the collection againt the backdrop of the city that inspired it.
Her favorite photo shows Klinzing standing in the deserted Times Square in a red coat, champagne top and full faux leather skirt — all part of Walz's newest collection.
“It was just the most perfect shot,” said Jackie Walz. “I guess for us, the snow was an advantage.”
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