Fashion week begins in Kansas City and although some might be surprised to hear this Midwest region is interested in apparel, this is nothing new. In the late 1940’s the Kansas City Garment District was a major clothing manufacturer, according to the KCFW website, at that time: “1 out of every 7 women in the United States purchased garments made in Kansas City”. After a journey of twists and turns, only memories remained and the Garment District Museum was built to keep them alive. As we all know, history has a way of repeating itself, and KC has become, once again, a meeting-place for people interested in clothing, this time, to enjoy fashion runways and appreciate the talent of local designers.
On it’s 10th season, the Kansas City Fashion Week begins with a Garden Party Brunch, which I am lucky to be a part of as Colors of Costa Rica was officially selected for a media pass. Hidden among trails of hills and trees, lays the beautiful venue, the Van Noy Mansion. A couple of well-dressed young men stand at the entrance, pointing guests to the parking area and greeting them at the entrance. An asphalt path leads to the Check-in desk, situated in front of the white porch columns that decorate the mansion’s front. An upbeat indie-like song is playing softly as I look at the guests, people are talking, laughing, taking pictures and getting their first drinks and snacks. I am excited to find out what their stories are. Why are they here? Let me tell you, I am in for a treat.
The first girls I speak to are wearing pastel dresses, they are high school seniors who came to “do something fun”, says the lady that accompanies them. One of them expresses her interest in Fashion Merchandising but says that is just one of several options. I try my first smoked-salmon “hors d'oeuvre” in their company and then head over to take pictures of the models who are wearing A to Z Theatrical Costumes.
I am captivated by the complex costume designs, but suddenly another design catches my eye, a beautiful green ethnic dress, I am sure the lady that is wearing it, is a designer, I approach her and ask if I can take a picture. Her name is Bosede and indeed, she is a designer, “a jewelry designer” she explains. According to the FW schedule, she will present her collection EarKandie! on Wednesday.
I chat briefly with this two lovely ladies who are representing HealthiTan, one of KCFW sponsors and shortly after, I meet Lydia. Her blonde hair falls along the sides of her pearl necklace, she smiles as she asks me questions about blogging and tells me that she writes for a magazine called Travel Buddy, which has just begun to cover events, but is known for publishing hotel and travel information. We talk about how cool it would be to live in New York and promise to meet for coffee if we both make it there someday.
Like Lydia, several of the people I met are writers, here, freelance writer, Alyssa Klimek and her companion Jonathan Vargas, smile for the camera.
Mary has her shoulders covered with a yellow jacket and is talking to her sister, Eva, as I approach them. The sisters are originally from the Czech Republic and Mary is currently the Editor in Chief of The Style on the Hill, a fashion magazine, with an on-campus location at the University of Kansas. We talk about fashion journalism and about how nice it is for there to be some publication regarding style at KU.
The introductory speech is announced and we all gather around to hear the welcoming words of the KCFW president, Teisha Barber. I was moved to meet her and her lovely family.
Kathryn Snellen, the KCFW PR Director, was also very pleasant. She made sure to welcome everyone and truly made you feel "at home".
Meeting other bloggers is also lots of fun! There’s so much to talk about and usually, you have a lot in common. I did a short video with Vanessa Zambo (above) blogger at Stomp, who had an intern in photography assisting her, great idea! I also met Tamara (below) who studied Journalism and volunteered for this fashion week.
Models, designers, bloggers and photographers. Those are the people that you expect to meet at the KCFW Garden Party, but future doctors? Really? I meet Sahaja and Mrudula at the dessert table. They are volunteers at the KCFW and were assisting Dolce Bakery today. Mrudula tells me I can try the four flavors if I want when I ask her if I can have two cupcakes: a chocolate one and a pumpkin spice one. The two ladies are wearing elegant black dresses and tell me they are volunteering for fun, they like fashion but they are both students at the UMKC School of Medicine. They are from India and met at UMKC, since then, they’ve become really good friends.
The world of fashion has its doors wide open for anyone who wants to step in. People from all backgrounds get together during this exciting kick-off event to get to know each other before the “real fun” begins on the runway. Back in 1940’s the Kansas City Garment District did not discriminate, as long as you could use a sewing machine, you were hired. Nowadays, that remains the same, if you love fashion, you are welcome. This is an event to share a unique art and form of expression. You just have to “suit-up” and show up.