The West 18th Street Fashion Show began at dusk on June 11, 2022.
The theme of the “Summer Colosseum” welcomed visitors to a collection of designers inspired by all things Greco-Roman.
Planned months in advance, the show was shaping up to go off without a hitch, but due to a thunderstorm forecast at the last minute, the stage crew scrambled to safety to move the event inside.
The original runway was established as a raised platform on 18th Street located outside The Bauer, a historic warehouse in the Square District. Seating consisted of bleachers with individual chairs behind them.
In between quick changes, all hands were on deck to rearrange the seating and sound configuration. A spectacle of the eleventh hour scramble, it served as a testament to the creativity and sharp thinking of a highly skilled team here to elevate fashion in the subway by any means necessary.
At the pre-show VIP party, patrons could be seen having drinks, stagehands taking off microphones and speakers from the elevator, and immediately leading them into Bauer’s internal ballroom.
Similarly the volunteers and board members of West 18th were left to make new seating arrangements. The balancing act was finally stabilized, as soon as the green light was given to the finishing touches.
Outside the switch in schematics, West 18th took on more of a traditional vibe, this time around. Last year, the effort involved a collaboration between architects and construction companies, and in 2020 the film got sight in summer,
By focusing on a straight runway and separate exhibitions of each clothing, the exhibits were brought back to the gritty.
As models walked the perimeter of the room during the show, the Summer Colosseum soon surfaced through the clothing on display. From gladiator-esque leather dresses to hand-woven embellishments, each designer’s multi-faceted touches were finally taking the main stage.
The nine Metro-based alumni included 3 Mink, Renee’ LaRouge, Craig Rohner, Birdies, Nidaloo Handmade, Red Hare Leather and 2S Design House. One of the only outside artists was Dubai-based designer Zaid Farooqui. His pieces can be found on his website and Instagram.
At the time when each designer was tasked with creating their own concept on the theme, co-owner of Nidaloo Handmade Courtney Warner found herself with a stroke of luck. Part of his collection, which aligns with the theme as a whole, was actually conceptualized and produced before the concept was released. Her luck took shape in a layered metal pendant inset with the head outline of the legendary Gorgon Medusa.
Nidalu’s inspiration was inspired by Greco-Roman mythology and others. “This collection, in particular, was really inspired by mythology, religion, and fairy tales,” says Warner. She decided to dedicate each of her models to a Greek goddess. From the shell used as a shell for the painting “The Birth of Venus”, and a bow to arm her Artemis, the props emphasized each character.
Each of Nidalu’s garments were constructed from suzani cloth, a tribal cloth native to Central Asia. The material was embroidered with symmetrical, sweeping designs, and the audience was greeted with a warm color palette.
Even though most designers are wrapped up in last-minute multi-tasking, makeup matters, and costuming woes, a select few double as West 18th show directors.
Senior Artistic Director and co-owner of Birdies, Peregrin Honig marked his 22nd year with West’s 18th. Operating Birdies with Alexis Bargarabe, Honig had her own products returning to the show as a veteran brand.
As designer and director, Honig knows the ins and outs of each show. Whether it’s port-a-potty delivery, staging, lighting, music, or programs, it’s automatically the go-to. Since productions vary greatly each year, they believe that the label of “fashion show” is not exactly appropriate for the event, or even limits the scope of what audiences should expect. Is.
Honig details the history of the event, saying, “It’s not really a show, it’s more of a spectacle. The things we bring in have never been seen before.”
While Medusa pendants tied around the necks of some models, flowing unisex daywear adorned the shoulders of others. Among the multitude of cogs that propel the ever-spinning trend wheel is each designer’s statement face and which give the creations a frame to adorn – the models.
Nidaloo Handmade Model and Acting Aphroditus, Dawson Lambert says this year overall the show has been a great experience.
The Summer Colosseum marked the 18th year of Lambert’s first walk west. He credits the show’s vibrant energy and success to the board of directors, and his experience planning past events. He has appeared at Kansas City Fashion Week, the ICT Fashion Tour in Wichita, and works with smaller brands to promote their products.
West 18th wasn’t just an opportunity to recognize the fashion surrounding Metro, Lambert says, “it’s really more about showcasing fashion as an art form.”
Each “fashion show” reveals a variety of styles, levels, and courses through which costumers channel their ingenuity. Faye Woods, owner and operator of Red Hare Leather, delivered her models with chains and whips, which was absolutely exciting to the pack.
Red Hare focused on the versatility of each item. Her models were emphasized to look more attractive through their makeup. Each subject was painted in the same style: three were painted with a black stripe obscuring their eyes while the other two were awarded gold.
Woods says of his brand, “It’s about people feeling good in their bodies, and in their sexuality, and in their gender, and just showing strength.”
Reddish green leather presented a dark and light gray harness, a pair of black suspenders and an Ecru bracelet. There was even a white gladiator-inspired skirt laying on the floor.
After alumni designers unveiled their respective talents, the leading man, Zaid Farooqui, concluded the event, contributing a taste of the Arabian Peninsula. Farooqui’s label operates its home base in Dubai and specializes in embroidered designs as well as unisex clothing which is a blend of comfort and couture for the customers.
A representative for Farooqui says, “Obviously the Middle East is a conservative place. With Zaid—he’s breaking down barriers. He was one of the first designers in Dubai to start doing unisex collections.”
His previous work has graced the pages of Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, and he drafted American rapper and singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams for the cover of Vogue Man Arabia in April.
The finishing montage included mesh necklines, a tan and black printed lingerie set, a flowing ivory tunic and the final outfit of the entire show.
As model Eva von Schlemmer rounded the corner of the runway, a silent goodnight to the crowd whispering in the air. Her silhouette, in a closed metallic dress, illuminated the entire room. The ostrich-feathered feathers on his helmet bowed in a show of thanks to West’s 18th appearance.
While West 18’s board of directors made one final victory lap on the runway – to recognize their positions with a laurel wreath – the band let their cover of “We Are the Champions” fly free.
Zach Bauman. all photos by