Betsey Johnson, Bill Johnson Studio, Cheryl Lofton for Chaudre Custom Clothes, Diahana Lynn, KAS Collection, Michael Kaye, Tashia Senn, Walish Gooshe, Belafigura, CeciG Originals, Chez Kavito, Ibhana, Kustom Looks Clothier, Plastic Heaven, Tsyndyma Designs, and West Potomac Academy of Fashion Design.
What We Liked: In the quiet Mount Vernon square area, you could hear the bass thumping from a block away, luring you into the
industrial, warehouse style Longview Gallery. With contemporary pop art adorning the walls and
exposed utility pipes running along the ceilings, the gallery exudes a genuine downtown aesthetic. While Betsey Johnson has been in the game for awhile, her collections are far from boring and her iconic ’80’s and 90’s pop-infused brand was working it. Her fashion was impressive, with a slight punk influence that made the collection downright hip, and having such a well-known national name in D.C. was certainly exciting. The candid speech given by Pink Jams founder, Christa Floresca, was moving and heartfelt, giving a human face to the charity, which was founded in honor of her friend Jen losing her battle with breast cancer at a young age in 2007. In the wake of some recent confusion about the necessity of mammograms and early detection, the message was for prevention through the awareness that breast cancer can, has and does strike at a young age. With an audience of mostly young females, the message couldn’t have been more on point. Lastly, we loved that there were a number of local designers there!
What We Didn’t Like: Unfortunately, in an attempt to make the event unique, the event planners did too much and made it somewhat chaotic. With too many guests and press people and not enough space and chairs, people were standing anywhere and sometimes hanging in the runway, causing models to have to step around them. As well, we weren’t sure who the event was really showcasing. It appeared to be a dizzying, tangled web of local designers, pink clothing, Betsy Johnson, Pink Jams, a silent auction, the band, the models, the gallery and the Greater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce. With many of the right parts, unfortunately the execution was a bit off. Betsey Johnson herself created a video from her New York City apartment for the show, which had the potential to be a cool addition to the show. Addressing the audience and the cause in her iconic thick bangs and braids, Johnson was as adorable and offbeat as you would expect. The problem was that the video was shown on a blank side wall that was essentially completely out of view of almost everyone; and absolutely out of view for the sponsors and VIP’s. The video lost its effect when audio problems prevented us from hearing Betsey’s message and a poorly placed projector showed a dim, slanted view of the video on side wall.
Final Thought: As a fashion-adoring female who has (like so many others) been negatively affected by the
far-reaching grip of breast cancer, I was hyped about this event, and with such a cool concept, I was a little bummed with the execution. Remember that old adage “dress for the job you want, not the job you have?” If we don’t take D.C. fashion seriously, no one else will, and sticking media behind a band, allowing anyone who feels like it to stand on the runway to snap facebook pictures, overselling events and lacking a clear focus falls short of what we want D.C. fashion to represent. The event had all the right parts but could have benefited from simplifying a bit more and planning a more suitable venue. It was my first time at the Longview and I was certainly enamored with the space; but perhaps for a cocktail party or a different event. The gallery, simply, was too small and not the proper space for a runway show.
So, we hope next year we can see some better execution (and actually see the models), because the pieces of the puzzle are there. Unfortunately, DC’s fashion scene won’t get national attention until it starts putting together national level fashion events. We’re 75% there…