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Fashion Week of Rochester: further than fashion

by By Shelby Toth - Staff Writer
Tue, Oct 22nd 2019 08:00 pm
Fashion Week of Rochester celebrated it's 10th anniversary last week with a six day event. The proceeds of the fashion shows go toward helping the community, with several of the shows donating to something special. Thursday's show's proceeds which went to the Arnett House. The models showcased apparel from local designers and vendors.
Fashion Week of Rochester celebrated it's 10th anniversary last week with a six day event. The proceeds of the fashion shows go toward helping the community, with several of the shows donating to something special. Thursday's show's proceeds which went to the Arnett House. The models showcased apparel from local designers and vendors.

Throw out every preconceived notion you have about fashion shows; Fashion Week of Rochester steps beyond what it means to be another fashion-focused event.

Fashion Week of Rochester originally began in 2010 by co-founders Meghan Mundy, the chief fashion organizer and Elaine Spaull, executive director at The Center for Youth, with the goal of raising money for the center’s homelessness program. According to the show’s website, the initial show was a three-day event that aimed to “spotlight local designers, boutiques, businesses and artists while shining a light on youth homelessness.” Despite it being the first year, the show sold out completely. 

Now, in its tenth year with a six-day event and on course to continue its tradition of packing its venue, fashion week has left a significant impact on the Rochester community. Every day’s show tackles a different subject, with proceeds going to a different cause each night. 

In an interview with Channel 8 WROC, Spaull explained the idea of “starting a movement” with the fashion show, which is also this year’s overall theme. 

“You know, we focused on fashion for the longest time and now we’re focusing on why we do what we do and I think that’s contributing to us selling out so quickly,” Spaull told WROC. “I mean, really, people understand every dime goes back into homeless shelters and who does that?” 

This energy carried into the Thursday, Oct. 17 show, titled “On the Edge.” The proceeds from this show went to the Arnett House, an independent living program for youth in the LGBTQ community. 

The show opened with Spaull coming on stage to give an opening speech on the night‘s theme, telling the audience “we don’t care who you love!” 

As she exited the stage, a countdown began for the main event. When it hit zero, the first model came on stage. Dressed in neon mesh pants and a neon top, with black bird feathers surrounding her neck in an intricate choker, she was followed by multiple more models, men and women, all dressed similarly. The group began to perform an elaborate, high-energy dance, bringing life to the crowd.

After their performance, the show progressed with models taking the runway in pieces, each piece having one designer as its focus. Overall, 17 different designers and groups got to show their pieces on the runway. This included everything from local Rochester boutique Salty, to Rochester Institute of Technology’s (RIT) design team and local cosplay shop, which ended the show. 

Perhaps the piece to get the most appreciation was the drag queen portion, where multiple drag queens came to represent Luci & Dona. As with any drag show, the colors were bright, the music was loud and the energy from the audience was at a night-high.

The second group to come out represented Silk Bridal, with elegant wedding dresses paired with jeweled headpieces. Two representatives from Silk Bridal, Creative Director Laura Maier and Manager Kendra Worley, spoke on what Fashion Week of Rochester has brought to the community. 

“It’s incredible,” Maier said. “It’s for a good cause, it’s fun, all the models have a great time, all the vendors are able to show off what they’ve got.” 

Worley agreed, emphasizing the collaboration the show brings to those involved.

“It’s such a great way for not only local designers and local businesses to come together and work together but also to raise money for [the center],” Worley said.

Every year Fashion Week brings in a diverse crowd of people from all across Monroe County. A Rochester native, Abby Esposito, attended the event for the first time this year, noting that the amount of people allowed for great networking opportunities. 

“I think the shows have impressive turnout because there isn’t anything else like this in Rochester throughout the year, so it’s become something that seems like ‘everyone who’s anyone’ goes to,” Esposito said.

Any event that can harness the influence of an area with raising money for a good cause is important, and Fashion Week of Rochester does just that. While information on the 2020 show won’t be released for some time, there is no doubt that it will be bigger than ever.

Photo of the Week

Taken by Mathieu Starke, staff photographer

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