Omaha Fashion Week's annual spring show at Kaneko, 1111 Jones St., drew designers from Kansas City, Los Angeles, Lincoln and, of course, Omaha. It drew one contestant from Lifetime TV's “Project Runway” and, for the first time, gave hairstylists, makeup artists and accessories designers their own night. Following is a look back on some memorable moments of this year's show:
Saturday: Menswear, avant garde, swimwear and eveningwear
Christian Shuster's menswear collection — the only dedicated menswear collection of the week — featured corduroy pants, quilted vests and a few suits in tweeds and plaids, too. The wide-ranging collection was equal parts modern and 1970s.
Jeff Hanson's hand-painted gowns in vibrant colors stunned. My favorite was a cocktail dress in greens and golds with a ruffled detail at the sleeves.
Kate Walz, a 16-year-old Omaha Fashion Week veteran, had the final collection of the week — dresses, gowns and separates that she showed in New York last month. The 1960s-inspired collection was beautifully made and looked amazing on the runway. The audience responded with a standing ovation. And watching from the front row was Lincoln native and “Project Runway” contestant Amanda Valentine, who brought a special guest along — brother James, whose band, Maroon 5, will play in Omaha tonight.
Friday: Ready to wear
Valentine opened the evening's shows with a six-piece collection of brand-new designs. Fans of the reality design show likely recognized some of Valentine's favorite elements — bold prints, simple silhouettes and fringe, fringe, fringe. Valentine also served as emcee for the night, and stuck around afterward to mingle with fans and young designers. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate and current Nashville resident said she was impressed with the cohesiveness of the other collections shown that night, and she specifically praised Millard West senior Hannah Olson's collection of plus-sized party dresses.
Other highlights included a collection of pretty, pastel dresses and separates by Iowa State University junior Caine Westergard, a collection of motorcycle wear that combined traditional leather with unexpected fabrics like brocade from Rachel Butler (the vampire-meets-geisha makeup, by Dezzie Dolls, was pretty cool, too), and a demure, carnival-inspired collection of sweet summer dresses and separates from OFW veteran Jessica Seeley.
Thursday: Bridal and children's wear
In past seasons, children's wear designer Hollie Hanash has presented over-the-top collections (her show in August featured dresses with full skirts and lace-up corsets in colors like lime green and hot pink, accented with rocker accessories including fingerless lace gloves). This season, Hanash went for wearable and presented an adorable collection in shades of pink, gray and white. An outfit with a one-shouldered, ruffled top in a pink and gray paisley print paired with polka-dot tiered bell-bottoms was darling and age-appropriate. She also showed the collection at Kansas City Fashion Week on Saturday night.
Bridal designer Jillian Fellers also made her OFW debut Thursday night. Her dreamy collection of chiffon gowns in the softest shades of pink, gray and blue fit the models perfectly and moved beautifully down the runway. The gowns were simple, but interesting details — floaty chiffon peplums, hand-dyed lace detailing, soft pleats — made them pop. Fellers said fairy tales and wearability inspired the collection.
“You can move in it, but it still looks elegant.”
Children's wear designer Aubrey Sookram receives the award for the season's sassiest models. The little girls and boys who modeled her line blew kisses and struck poses at the end of the catwalk. One little girl in a black-and-silver metallic mini cocktail dress with a peplum could not stop posing. The audience loved her.
Wednesday: Hair, makeup and accessories show
This was a new show this year, and it was met with so much enthusiasm that producer Brook Hudson said she expected it would become a regular component of Omaha Fashion Week. On Tuesday night, stylists, makeup artists and accessories designers were randomly matched into teams and given 24 hours to create a cohesive look, which they presented on Wednesday. A panel of judges selected a winning team, giving the night the feel of a reality television show competition.
Pros: Hair, makeup and accessories were front and center in a way they couldn't be during a clothing-oriented show. T. Justine Reilly's resin bangles, pendants and rings stood out, as did the sculptural hairstyles by Salon Fusion and a team made up of independent stylists and makeup artists called Welcome to the Dojo.
Cons: I thought the contest aspect felt unnecessary — the looks were so wide-ranging that it was difficult to compare them. I also wanted to see some of the accessories closer up (something Hudson said they're working on). Additionally, the teams had the option to accentuate their looks with swatches of fabric provided by Mood, the New York City fabric store made famous by “Project Runway.” In some cases, I found it difficult to distinguish the fabric embellishments from the accessories collections. Hudson agreed with me on that, but she said it didn't bother her. One of the things the judges considered in naming a winner was the resulting look — not necessarily the individual components. “That's what we were judging,” she said.
Tuesday: Cancer survivor show
The first show of the week featured 80 models, all cancer survivors, in looks from local boutiques. Definitely, this night was more about who was wearing the clothes than about the clothes themselves, but one boutique stood out in its styling. Kelsey Riewer of Paperdoll Vintage Boutique, 6107 Maple St., sent four models down the runway in leopard print, coral and floral looks, all accessorized with statement necklaces that appeared to be made from vintage brooches and earrings. Each model also wore cream-colored wedge jelly shoes paired with lace socks. Individually, each look was modern yet quirky (and looked like something Zooey Deschanel might wear). Together, the collection was cohesive without being matchy or repetitive.
Omaha Fashion Week founder Nick Hudson walked the runway on Tuesday in jeans, a checked jacket and purple and orange sneakers from the Post and Nickel, 11015 Elm St. This was the first time Hudson, who battled thyroid cancer several years ago, has walked the runway during Omaha Fashion Week.
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