By MIKE CHAIKEN
New York has its fashion week. London has its fashion week. Even Charleston, S.C. has a fashion week.
So why not Hartford Fashion Week?
And that will be happening this weekend as the first ever Hartford Fashion Week runway shows are held at Union Station, 1 Union Place, Hartford.
Katrina Orsini is the brains behind this event, which has attracted 13 fashion designers.
A resident of Hartford, Orsini said, “I have always thought the city lacked an industry for fashion. For the most part, all one can see downtown is business casual dress on the weekdays.”
And Orsini said she saw a need for a Hartford Fashion Week. “As a manager of Jerry’s Artarama (an art supply store in West Hartford), we always had a large hand in Open Studio Hartford, as well as similar events. Recently, we have noticed an influx of designers and textile artists participate in events not necessarily made for them. This was obviously because they had no real venue of their own, so I decided to start one, based on a model [New York City] started and many other cities have followed since.”
To find the participants for the event, Orsini said, “We held an open application process for designers, so anyone was allowed to apply. Models simply had to register and they were allowed to attend a casting call, at which point designers chose who they wanted in their show.” The hair and makeup teams are being provided by the International Institute of Cosmetology, which has campuses in Plainville and Wethersfield.
Each of the chosen 13 designers will show 10 to 20 looks apiece over the three day runway event, said Katrina.
Lauren Bolstridge of West Hartford, who goes by FemmeGod, is one of the designers participating in the shows.
Her fashions are constructs that mix natural materials—feathers in one case and animal skulls in other—with manmade materials, such as paint or meshed fabric.
“I have always had a fascination with the morbid, and oddities,” Bolstridge said of her creations. “So I’m trying to make something that I already think is beautiful but other people see them and don’t really understand. I like playing with that idea of curiosity.”
“I see these (women wearing her fashions) as goddesses, mythical creatures, something not of this world,” said Bolstridge. “I like playing with structures or pieces that have been of this world and melding the two together.”
Bolstridge said, “Some of the materials (used in her fashions) I did find out in nature.” But she said she also finds many of her materials for her fashion designs from Etsy. “I’m a huge fan of Etsy. You can find anything on it.” Also, Bolstridge said she finds items at the Brimfield Antique Show, which is held three times a year in Massachusetts.
To create her pieces, Bolstridge said, “I’ll start with a sketch and I’ll have an idea of what I want to do and start to put it together. As I’m working, I do let (the materials) speak to me.”
As for what Orsini considers to be the Hartford fashion aesthetic, the organizer said, “I think what will surprise people the most is the diversity of the designs in the show. We have streetwear, formal wear, and everything in between. Even one labeled ‘Funkenomics,’ which is just that – super funky.”
Orsini said the plan is to turn Hartford Fashion Week into an annual event, “Hopefully, unearthing designers all over Connecticut. We will build the brand to include jewelry makers, shoe makers, and accessory makers in the future. Our goal is to bring a week of fashion celebration to every corner of Hartford once a year.”
The schedule of events for Hartford Fashion Week at Union Place in Hartford is:
Friday, Oct. 2
7 p.m.: Plenitude Design Group
8 p.m.: HarDenCo
9 p.m.: La’Moo Designs
Saturday, Oct. 3
6 p.m.: Troy Anthony Fashions
7 p.m.: de Muerte
8 p.m.: FemmeGod
9 p.m.: Matthew Reisman
Sunday Oct. 4
2 p.m.: Streetwear Showcase ft. RountTable, Royal Cuffs, and YOP
3 p.m. :AER Collections
4 p.m.: Funkenomics
5 p.m.: Saints by S.J.
Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver.com.
PHOTOS by MIKE CHAIKEN