LA BELLE VUE: Seattle fashion designers strut their stuff in Bellevue

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A steampunk-inspired wedding ensemble with fur embellishments by Carole McClellan, the winner of the 2012 Fashion Week at the Bellevue Collection. Courtesy photograph | The Bellevue Collection

Fashion Week at the Bellevue Collection was not an occasion for the serious eye. It was an event teetering between the pits of parody and pageantry. In the end, the showcase exhibited the potential of Seattle’s designing prowess.

The Bellevue Collection mimicked the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America and Vogue Fashion Fund.

The CFDA and Vogue Fashion Fund are nonprofit organizations that financially support both emerging and established fashion designers – imagine the Academy Awards, but replace the actors and actresses with designers giving thank-you speeches.

While the CFDA and Vogue Fashion Fund are comparable to the dazzling Oscars, Bellevue Fashion Week was more like the developing stages of Project Runway.

Many of the attendees were finishing their second glass of wine before the models came out. 30 minutes past the scheduled takeoff, the lights had finally dimmed signaling the start of the show, and then Katy Perry’s “Part Of Me” began playing.

More than half of the models that walked on the runway had the habit of flashing their teeth in front of the cameras; one can witness that sort of smile by watching Miss America.

Fortunately, the clothes wore the models, not vice versa, which distracted audience members from focusing on their goofy smiles.

A total of eight Seattle designers displayed their creations, among them, designer Lizzie Parker was the first to reveal her weapons of choice.

Parker put forth looks that are worthy of a rock star. The waxed French terry biker-vest and foiled gold caps sleeve-dress inspired a sense of catharsis, even liberation.

Designer Jessica Park, the genius behind Ampersand As Apostrophe, proved that even a classic handbag is no match for her unconventional point of view. Her bags are like antique furniture purposefully put against a minimalist background.

Park’s black perforated mailbag can be a charming wall decoration for a stylish prefabricated house, and lucky guests will gaze at it with wonder about all the adventures it has gone through.

If there was a collection that appealed to both commercial and artistic standards, designer Masha Osoianu’s slash accessories met all those levels through a relaxed yet feminine approach. Osoianu juxtaposed the colors of the fall with shredded silk, which aroused a uniquely rustic positivity.

The weight of estrogen could not overpower Built For Man. Indeed designer Francisco Hernandez built his brand exclusively for men. There was power. There was virility. There was also slick athleticism.

Menswear fashion is frequently in danger of falling into cliché notions of masculinity, but Hernandez did not even mention the suit and tie in his collection. Instead, he utilized form fitting leather pants and striped sweaters with ribbed details – simply sensational.

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Built For Man’s green V-neck with rib details and brown leather pants. Courtesy photograph | The Bellevue Collection

Designer Kate S. Mensah deserved a standing ovation. Her satin robes were draped in such a way that the fabric seemed to glisten and grow all over the models’ body like luscious vines.

It looked tough and resilient, an allusion to rebirth or blossoming beauty. The garment’s floral patterns certainly helped emphasize that point.

The real star of the evening, however, was Carole McClellan.

Fashion experts were completely swept away by McClellan’s romantic manipulation of fur and leather – very Jean Paul Gaultier.

Laura Cassidy, style editor of Seattle Metropolitan Magazine, had the honor of announcing McClellan as the winner of the Independent Designer Runway Show.

The Bellevue Collection, Fashion Group International Seattle Chapter, and Femfessionals awarded McClellan $5,000 in fashion funds to support her business.

The clothes were by no means mediocre, as each artist clearly communicated their individual understanding of fabric, color, and visual concept. But the show itself required fewer easily amused yuppies, and more thoughtful buyers.

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All the women in the audience could relate to Kate S. Mensah’s collection. Her dresses were a delightful reference to timeless, no…evolutionary, beauty. Courtesy photograph | The Bellevue Collection

The story was originally published by The Thunderword.

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