The 2021 “West 18th Road Trend Present” hit the pavement with fashion

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S’il Vous Plaît, by and Dionne Holt. // Picture by Chris Ortiz

On June 12, West 18th Road between Baltimore and Wyandotte was reworked into an interactive style expertise. It was a residing, respiration, psychedelic, neon-go-go boot-wearing, socially aware and self-aware, kink-friendly, and filled with fantasy expertise. In brief, it was a spectacle to behold. 

The “West 18th Road Trend Present” was again in particular person for its 21st annual present, after a yr on the silver display screen, and Kansas Citians have been right here for it. 

The present has a historical past of being greater than an occasion. An amalgamation of designers, musicians, artists, fashions, and naturally, the observers come collectively as an expertise in contrast to a standard runway present. Up to now, fashions have used the pavement of 18th avenue as an improvised runway, with onlookers standing on the sidewalk taking within the designer’s garments. 

This yr, the present’s theme was “Summer time Tableau” and featured elaborate backdrops that designers and onlookers have been in a position to work together with. As an alternative of a runway, guests would stroll by every tableau, which featured a gaggle of fashions or immobile figures representing a scene from a narrative or from historical past. 

“The tableaus have been every so distinctive, the designs have been so polished, and I don’t suppose the fashions will ever have as nice of a time as they did at this present,” says Celeste Lupercio, senior producer for the occasion. “I’m so blessed to be part of a Kansas Metropolis neighborhood that features the architects and designers that partnered with us. I want the night time had lasted longer.” 

Native architectural agency Helix was tapped to construct the imaginative and prescient of the occasion. 

The style designers, architects, and contractors all labored as groups. The objective was to make a spectacular occasion, however all of us acknowledged that the non permanent nature of this shouldn’t be resource-inefficient,” Head Architect Jay Tomlinson says. “Everybody did so much with a little bit, and virtually all the things we created was both comprised of recycled supplies, may very well be recycled itself, or each. The collaboration was actually cool.” 

Every set up served as a backdrop for the artists’ collections and area for the fashions to pose in addition to being in-built coordination with every artist’s theme. The laissez-faire format created extra free motion throughout the occasion, which allowed for a distinctive interplay {that a} conventional runway present lacks. Viewers have been in a position to meander and discover every of the seven tableaus at their very own tempo whereas the fashions remained in the identical area.

The themes of the tableaus ranged from county truthful stylish to futuristic barbie doll, to BLSFM (Black Lives Nonetheless Fucking Matter). The widespread thread alongside the installations was the clothes—all collections from native Kansas Metropolis artists. 

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Evolution, by Marley Polka. // Picture by Chris Ortiz

Marley Polka was exhibiting her assortment, The Cult of Polka, for the primary time after working her method as much as a featured designer.

“For a few years I’ve volunteered, modeled, I’ve carried out all the things I might to work my method up into being a featured designer,” Polka, a 2021 graduate of KCAI says. “That is sort of like a private story, speaking about progress and evolution and metamorphosis. The butterfly is a part of the theme, like ‘rising and evolving,’ and also you see the straps that signify constraints inside your self, and then you definately’re rising and also you’re discovering your gentle.” 

Polka’s theme was particularly poignant as Kansas Metropolis slowly begins to interrupt out of its COVID-19 shell. 

Not all that have been attending have been there for the style. Quinton Dancer mentioned he was attending the occasion after his girlfriend received tickets at her work. 

“I’m excited simply to be out and doing one thing like this,” Dancer says. “I don’t know so much about style, however we’re comfortable simply to be right here, with the music and everybody.” 

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Fabergé, by Birdies and BoundtoNothing. // Picture by Chris Ortiz

Birdies, a longstanding lingerie retailer on West 18th St, joined with KC artist BoundtoNothing to create a sensual, speakeasy temper interlacing shibari and lingerie. 

“That is an artwork type known as Shabari, and it’s based mostly so much in kink and the BDSM realm,” BoundtoNothing says. “My intention is to convey this right into a extra stunning, inventive gentle, as a substitute of leaving it in that darkish realm. As a result of I believe that is accessible as an artwork type for many individuals.” 

The fashions confronted onlookers on an ornate sofa with lace lingerie and twine normal within the shibari approach—like a Greek portrait with a contemporary twist. 

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All of the Juice, by Minc Mason. // Picture by Chris Ortiz

Mason Minc, the creator and designer of 3Minc, doesn’t match the profile of a standard dressmaker. He’s tall, has an athletic construct, and confessed that he performed basketball rising up earlier than deciding to grow to be a designer. He challenges the norms of what a dressmaker seems to be like and his work calls out the stereotypes of masculinity in style. His design for the occasion, All The Juice, targeted on showcasing what would occur if the style of the 1960s and 1970s came about a century later in 2069. The fashions adorned the tableau in clothes highlighted in daring, neon colours harking back to the disco period, however with futuristic designs. They stood on platforms going through the gang conjuring a space-age barbie theme. 

Craig Rhoner’s assortment, Blue Ribbon, evoked county truthful and down-home, barnyard feelings. 

“In my youth, being 15 or 16-years-old, I beloved to go to the county truthful for a few causes, and most of them have been to take a look at sizzling ladies,” Rhoner says. “I’m not concerned about making a model, I’m extra concerned about creating experiences like what you’re having proper now.” 

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Blue Ribbon, by Craig Rhoner. // Picture by Chris Ortiz

The mannequin’s worn t-shirts minimize onerous on the waist to emphasise the curves of their our bodies. The tableau evoked feelings of daydreaming about your crush—and included phallic imagery. 

Whereas the occasion explored the style of internal and outer magnificence, Designer Dionne Holt drew inspiration from the silent gesture on the podium of the 1968 Olympics together with the civil and ladies’s rights actions of the 1960s. 

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S’il Vous Plaît, by Dionne Holt. // Picture by Chris Ortiz

Her design, S’il Vous Plait, showcased plus-sized ladies sporting 1960s fashion afros and bright-colored clothes styled in a style just like blaxploitation movies of the previous. The fashions held posters with faces of black women and men killed by police buoyed by the letters BLSFM—Black Lives Nonetheless Fucking Matter. 

“The ladies are plus-sized, which you don’t see so much in style,” Holt elaborated. “You both assist these ladies otherwise you don’t, you possibly can’t try this quietly. You both stand for one thing or fall for something. With what’s happening on the planet at the moment, in the event you’re quiet about it then you definately agree with it, you might be complacent about what’s going it.” 

The occasion was capped by musical performances by Calvin Arsenia, Mike Dillon, and Nikki Glaspie. 

The style present was an enormous step towards normalcy post-COVID-19, and an essential alternative to platform native artists’ voices about essential points. The number of tableaus highlighted the significance of getting a variety of voices and inventive types, which was magnified by the range of individuals in attendance.

Photographs by Chris Ortiz

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