Splash News

Splash News is published by Splash Model Management with news on the modeling and talent industry as well as info on auditions and casting up and down the Eastern United States.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Settled right in the middle of the bustle of midtown Manhattan, Bryant Park during about 50 weeks of the year is a quiet little oasis, a place for New Yorkers to sit, meditate, or savor the ice cream sold by the local vender. However, for a week in September and a week in February, this small space becomes the fashion mecca of the western world. Beginning in September of 1993 with the spring 1994 shows, the Organization known as Seven on Sixth transforms Bryant Park into a magical wonderland by constructing a large conglomerate of temporary venues known as “the tents”.

For fourteen years I’ve watched the coverage on TV, bought countless magazines, and wanted so much to be a part of fashion week. Finally, last week, I got my wish and headed to New York for at least a portion of Spring 2008 Mercedes Benz Fashion week. Because of my experience as runway show stylist and producer for shows sponsored by Hampton Roads Magazine, I was able to obtain press credentials.

Armed with my press pass, I arrived with a fabulous entourage of beautiful fashionistas including my model daughter Jeniann; top Virginia based model and make-up artist Jade Zillig, and art director/stylist Eleni Lewandowski. During three very busy days, we explored the tents and exhibits of Bryant Park, the fashion week parties and attended runway shows both at Bryant Park and in some of the neighboring venues catering to emerging designers. This trip gave me the opportunity to meet and mix with the fashion community, to absorb the ambiance, and take notes of the shows, the sets, the exhibits for reference for my own upcoming project.

Not only did I want to go to New York Fashion Week but I dreamed of actually bringing that excitement back to Virginia. In recent years, I have followed the origins of “Fashion Weeks” in different markets across the United States including Washington DC, Maryland, Scottsdale, Dallas, and Atlanta to name a few. I knew that Virginia is home to many creative designers, particularly if you combined the Hampton Roads and Richmond markets. My dream was to create an event where a combination of local, national, and international designers could show their creations in slick professional New York style shows right here in Hampton Roads. Also after seeing multiple amateur fashion shows cluttered with infomercial style commentary, dancing-prancing volunteers for models, and clumsy over-choreographed formats, I wanted to introduce the clean, slick format of the New York fashion show to the local audience. After months of plugging my idea to regional media, venues, designers, and sponsors, Virginia Fashion Week is becoming a reality this November with shows scheduled at the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia, Club Mojo @ Jillians, and Guadalajara! Designers to be featured include “Project Runway” alumni Johnathan Kayne from Season 3 and Zulema Griffin from Season 2 as well as many well respected designers from Virginia or surrounding areas. For more info on Virginia Fashion Week, check out our website at www.vafashionweek.net .

Back to my NY adventure; even a press pass doesn’t guarantee admission to the celebrity filled top designer shows. After receiving press approval, I was sent a list of designers and their reps to contact for invitations. While some of the popular shows will only send invitations and seat reservations to a very exclusive group including celebrities, socialites, national press representatives, and buyers; other shows welcomed new attendees. I sent out emails requesting invites to all shows occurring on the days I would be there. I heard back from about one third. Most of those were standing room only passes. However, just being there was a thrill for me! Once I had credentials, I began receiving emails inviting me to parties and shows outside of Bryant Park as well as exhibits in the tents. By sending an RSVP with my friends names as well as my own and printing off multiple copies of one of these invites-to an Italian shoe exhibit, I was able to get my entire entourage into the main tent.

One of the shows outside of Bryant Park that we attended was the Nolcha Fashion Week Designer Competition. This was hosted by Allison Kelly of Project Runway and opened with a showing of her latest line. Then a group of ten competing designers from places as far away as Australia, Taiwan, and Indonesia showed several outfits each in a runway presentation while competing for a cash prize and media package. While the often “over-the-top” fashions were interesting, the overall presentation was not as impressive as the Bryant Park Shows. This event was held at the Prince George Hotel in Chelsea and attracted numerous press, buyers, and exhibitors.

While on the outside, the tents of Bryant Park look like a massive collection of interconnected temporary structures, inside it transforms into a wonderland. The main entrance takes you to a huge exhibition space featuring such vendors as Mercedes Benz, MAC Cosmetics, Lycra, American Express, and the fabulous Italian Shoe Exhibit. Those of us with press passes were presented with delightful gift bags! The “bag” itself was a nice canvas “carry-on” with the Mercedes Benz logo strap! Inside were skin care products valued at several hundred dollars, a t-shirt, a novel, and dozens of interesting trinkets. Additional gifts were available at the various exhibits and shows.

Approximately 30 minutes before a show is scheduled to start lines begin to form with attendants checking passes and confirming names and reservations. Generally the time spent waiting in lines is about double the actual time of a show! Then once admitted, guests pass through a corridor leading to one of the three major venues. The Tent is the largest space, offering a black interior and the option of a traditional or U-shaped runway, seating 969 or 965, respectively with additional standing room for several hundred more. Each designer would arrange runway format and seating to his or her own specifications. Some of the designers showing in the Tent include Betsey Johnson, Miss Sixty, Vera Wang, Michael Kors, Gwen Stefani’s “LAMB”, Max Azria, and Rosa Cha. I had standing room passes to Max Azria and was able to score a seat to Rosa Cha.

The Promenade is an all-white space with a U-shaped runway and seating for 741. More intimate than “The Tent” designers such as Gottex, Carlos Miele, and Luca Luca showed their lines in The Promenade. The Salon is also an all-white structure, with space for 340 seated guests and standing room for about the same number. I had the pleasure of attending the Twinkle by Wenlan show in The Salon. That show had a very personal feel to it with a customized backdrop and lighting affects to enhance the Twinkle image. The clothes were light, airy and fun.

Celebrity encounters were constant but barely acknowledged. I ran into Nigel Barker from America’s Next Top Model in several shows and in the main tent. Nigel graciously posed for photographers and interviews after the Twinkle show, very happy to promote the next season of ATM. Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher were on the premises the same time I was but I never caught a glimpse of either. Nicole Richie was at the Max Azria Show and actually caused a delay in the start time as her limo was caught in traffic; the show was held up until Nicole was in her seat next to Molly Sims. Once the show started, Maz Azria’s designs dazzled!

Back in the main tent, there were several celebrity socialites I didn’t recognize being stopped for photos constantly. At the Rosa Cha show, I spotted Mena Suvari, Nikki Sixx, Ivana Trump, Lisa and Brittny Gastineau, and J.C. Chasez. Rosa Cha’s asymmetrical, embellished swimsuits were extremely popular with the audience!

Besides the runway shows, another aspect of fashion week is the barrage of parties! As soon as I got my press credentials, the invites started coming! Various press gatherings, receptions, and cocktail parties were held every day of fashion week. Other events such as the hard to get in parties for celebrities and designers were more discreet. Parties were held everywhere from hotels and private penthouses to popular night clubs, department stores, and museums. I attended a press reception at the exclusive Bryant Park Hotel hosted by The Daily and was treated to more a manicure, make-up application as well as drinks and hors d’oeuvres and of course another goodie-bag!

Any trip to NY would not be complete without shopping, dining, and exploring the city. As I have done on all five of my NY visits over the past few years, I made time to visit some agencies and show the latest portfolios of the best young models in my agency Splash Model Management. I’ve built some good relationships with NY agencies which hopefully will lead to more Splash Models launching their careers in New York as well as abroad.

Of course the major reason for my attending MB Fashion Week in New York was for inspiration, planning, as well as making connections for my big project, the upcoming Virginia Fashion Week! This included a meeting over breakfast with the beautiful and talented Zulema Grifffin who was a featured contestant on season 2 of Bravo TV’s Project Runway. Being highly creative and somewhat outspoken, she was sometimes portrayed as an aggressor on the show. I found Zulema in person to be very warm, friendly, and likeable. She was filled with enthusiasm over her newest collection which showed to rave reviews in a gallery in New York last week. Hoping to sell her line to boutiques, Zulema has agreed to bring this collection to Virginia in November for a show that will be a highlight of our designer showcase Sunday November 11 at the Contemporary Art Center.

Having been to the shows in Bryant Park and later having viewed the images more closely online, I now have a much clearer vision of the styles and themes I plan to use for the upcoming shows at Virginia Fashion Week. With the exception being for guests with seats on the first few rows, the best views of the actual garments as well as the models, hairstyles, and make-up artistry is on the website www.mbfashionweek.com which actually includes close-up photos and video from most of the shows. However, whether it’s the close encounters with celebrities, the pulsating rhythm of the music or the goodie-bags, there’s something magical about being there! This was my first season in Bryant Park but it hopefully will not be my last; I’m already looking forward to the fall collections that will be showing in February,


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