by James Whitely -
SGN Staff Writer
The Bellevue Collection held its seventh annual Fashion Week at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue, September 25 to 29. While Seattle and Bellevue's take on fashion isn't quite as momentous as those of New York, Milan, or Paris (with which show it ran concurrently), the Bellevue Collection offered dramatic and informative runways that were both au courant and distinctly Northwest.
Bellevue Fashion Week (BFW) kicked off with the sold-out Independent Designer Runway Show, now in its second year. After participating in a six-month mentorship program, ten Northwest designers ignited the runway as they competed for a Bellevue Square display and a $5,000 prize.
It wasn't just the competitive element that excited audience members enough to move them to a standing ovation. For a brief moment, these 10 designers made Seattle and Bellevue feel like real 'fashion cities.' Their bold and unique designs seemed to shout to New York that there is a Northwest modern aesthetic, and the rest of the fashion world better pay attention. Seattleite Aykut Ozen's handmade leather designs for men and women took the prize, garnering Ozen a spot in BFW's preeminent show, Front Row Fashion, presented by Vogue Magazine.
Also very much locally oriented was the closing show, Memoir, presented and curated by SEVEN Salon. While the salon has locations in both Seattle and Bellevue (at Pacific Place and Bellevue Square, respectively), the four-person creative team behind the show was all-Seattle. Shelli Martin, SEVEN's stylist director; Jaclyn Beith, creative director; and senior stylists Lindsay Hostetter and Reghann Redlin brought captivating cuts and striking colors - all in sleepy Seattle's unique, toned-down, avant-garde style - to the Sunday runway that kept the audience wowed.
While it was clear from the energy of the Wednesday and Sunday runways that the Northwest is hungry for its own fashion icons, the Bellevue Collection brought out the best of the national sphere for BFW's three other nights. Menswear took the spotlight on Thursday for the Nordstrom Men's Shop & GQ Fall 2013 Runway Show, hosted by GQ's Peter St. John, and the best of women's wear dominated at Vogue's Front Row Fashion on Saturday. While certainly focusing on their niche, both shows featured men's and women's trends, and both aptly put a small Northwest twist on the hottest looks for fall/winter 2013.
THE RUNWAY SHOW
Currently in its seventh year, the Nordstrom Men's Shop & GQ Fall Runway Show donates 100% of its proceeds to the Detlef Schrempf Foundation. This year, the foundation funded the Bellevue Youth Theatre Foundation and Inspire Youth Project (formerly Rise n' Shine). In the show's seven-year run, it has raised more than $200,000. I caught up with St. John just before the Thursday show and asked the GQ style expert what I was about to see. 'Versatility,' he said, was the underlying principle of not just the show, but the menswear season.
'Twenty-fourteen is going to be the year for the guy on the go,' said St. John. 'His suit should be fitting for the bar and the boardroom.'
'Men are paying more attention,' he added. 'You want your clothes to be ready for any occasion.'
If you want a versatile outfit, you've got to know how to layer effectively. This is exactly what GQ aimed to demonstrate. Instead of showing each designer individually, looks were developed to allow the audience to see what works together and why.
A look consisting of a Marc New York by Andrew Marc black leather jacket, Levi Strauss & Co. jean jacket, Boss Hugo Boss white shirt, and Joe's Jeans blue-depth slim straight-leg jeans not only made an effort to remedy the all-too-common fear of denim above the waist, but spoke a subtle message about the magnitude of possibilities mixing casual and class can offer. A Marc New York by Andrew Marc grey/mushroom plaid 'Elliot' peacoat paired with a Wallin & Bros. black/cream herringbone vest, Scotch & Soda natural henley, and Ted Baker London Endurance black 'Raleigh' trousers, made for a look that stands in defiance of the notion that men have less to get creative with than women when it comes to cuts, shapes, and materials.
As menswear continued down the runway during Friday's Posh Party show and Saturday's Front Row Fashion, standout individual pieces included a Ted Baker London charcoal herringbone four-button coat, John Varvatos navy herringbone overcoat, Armani Collezioni black hooded car coat, Asymmetric Mock Neck Jacket by Vince (Vince has lots of good pieces this season, in women's too), a Ted Baker London dark-red textured half-placket sweater, John Varvatos black suede jacket, and an Edun navy moto stitch blazer. Fall/winter 2013 menswear abounds with options, and staples like crewnecks, turtlenecks, quilted vests, and fleece anything offer yet more.
Of course, cashmere is a major go-to for scarves and sweaters too - it will add refinement to almost any look. You needn't be fashion-forward to have noticed the growing abundance of 'affordable' cashmere in recent years. Don't be fooled by this shoddy stuff. The best cashmere is quality because of its long fibers that don't pill (develop those little balls of fabric) like other materials. Hopefully, the $20 cashmere scarf phenomenon will die when consumers begin to realize higher-end pieces are the only way to go if cashmere is what you're looking for.
FALL FASHION TIPS
Vogue's market stylist, Cara Crowley, and fashion and lifestyle guru Lawrence Zarian hosted Saturday's Front Row Fashion. Organized into themes, with each look created by a single designer, Vogue offered plenty of tips for menswear. The Bellevue Collection did the same with Friday's Posh Party runway show. Here are some of the biggest takeaways:
o In suits, the first thing men should recognize is the value of accessorizing. Your look isn't complete by itself. Add cuff links, a watch, or a bracelet every time you suit up. For the shirt, look for a semi-spread or button-down collar; skip the point collar this season. On that note, if you don't own at least one bowtie to tuck under it, you're just flat-out wrong.
o There was little presence of all-black outfits this year; perhaps this is because nowadays, we assume anyone wearing all black must work at Starbucks. Whatever the reason, a two-piece khaki suit is a great alternative and will remain in vogue well into next spring. If you're looking to get bold with your finery, wear colored and/or patterned socks with your suit, or no socks at all.
o Prints were a major theme in both shows. Houndstooth prints and plaids will be hot for both men and women. Choose a tighter plaid pattern for more professional looks, and a looser one for casual.
o Finally, there are two colors to be on the lookout for this season: grey tones and burgundy. Standout pieces included the Boss Hugo Boss burgundy/grey striped sweater, Burberry Brit deep-burgundy plaid shirt, Ermenegildo Zegna charcoal wool trousers, Boss Hugo Boss grey/navy windowpane plaid sportcoat, Canali burgundy V-neck sweater, Vince charcoal skinny jeans, Boss Hugo Boss burgundy corduroy sportcoat, John Varvatos cement marbled-print cardigan, and Marc New York by Andrew Marc charcoal classic coat. Greys will go well with white, hunter green, orange, blue, pearl, and (obviously) black. Burgundies will complement greys, other reds, and navy. Neither of these tones should be avoided in a monochrome look, either.
That about does it for menswear. I could say a few more things to be sure, but admittedly, I feel somewhat incentivized to keep a few things on the down low, just to stay trendier than all of you! So sorry! Next week, I'll be detailing the best of women's at BFW. Stay tuned and stay pretty.
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