FashionSPARK, a fashion show of designers in The Triangle, was held this year, Friday, September 17, at Raleigh City Plaza on Fayetteville Street. Seating started at 7:00 pm and the show began at 8:00 pm; admission was free.
FashionSPARK is an affiliate of SPARKcon, a celebration of arts and culture in The Triangle area. This year was the fifth anniversary of the show, the largest annual fashion show in this area, drawing an audience of over 1,500 in 2009. An estimated 2,000 people attended this year.
September 18, BazaarSPARK, another affiliate of SPARKcon, was held in the same location. It is an open market where the designers can sell their pieces from the runway show.
The show hosts designers of all ages. All designers must apply by June 5, 2010 and go through a judging process before being accepted or rejected.
There was no mandatory theme to follow; the audience witnessed a range of designs from children’s clothing to Lady Gaga-inspired chainmail chaps to cirque-chic.
In all, 20 fashion designers and five jewelry designers were accepted. Many of these designers paired and displayed their work together on many models.
One of the accepted designers was Payton-Alexis Brown, a design student at Appalachian State University and 2008 graduate of Leesville.
Brown has done many photo shoots of her work and displayed her 10-piece line, “Alice Underground,” in Redress Raleigh. This was the first time she participated in FashionSPARK. She was very nervous and excited, “but it was a great experience and opportunity.”
She has made herself known for repurposing materials from old clothing and using it to create vibrant, new pieces. She sells her work on Etsy.com under the name “allthatsgoodapparel” and payton-alexis.com.
Brown displayed her newest recycled piece as the main dress in her line of bridal gowns, entitled, “Equipoise.” It was a strapless wedding gown composed of used coffee filters that were saved for three months by a coffee house upon Brown’s request. “The top was originally a school project, but I knew I wouldn’t have time to make a completely new main piece, so I just added on to it. Why not use curricular projects as extracurricular projects?” she said.
Each designer had at most five pieces and five models. Some were more professional, some were just friends and family. Brown’s models were both.
Four of the five models were seniors from Leesville: Chandler Brown, sister, and friends, Andrea Gonzalez, Alex Stewart, and Katie Bellino. Morgane Klareich, a junior at NCSU, was the last model to walk and wore the main piece, the coffee filter gown.
Chandler Brown has been modeling for her sister since the beginning of her designing career, but FashionSPARK was also her first fashion show. Prior to the show she said, “I don’t expect to get anything out of being in the show. Payton asked me to be in it, so I’m excited to represent her. It’s going to be so much fun.”
Gonzalez and Bellino felt the same way as Chandler but were very nervous. They had never modeled before. “The dress I’m wearing has already been bought; I’m scared I’ll mess it up. And we’re wearing four or five inch heels!” Gonzalez stated about her feelings on the show. Bellino, also worried about the heels, said, “watch me just trip and fall off the runway.”
Despite the nerve-wracking experience, Brown’s models did fabulously, according to a loudly applauding audience. A picture of Chandler Brown in her sister’s sapphire bridal gown even showed up in a FashionSPARK picture reel done by WRAL.
Overall, FashionSPARK is a great way to promote local designers. It gives its viewers an intriguing and different perspective of fashion and inspires up and coming fashionistas.