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Sacramentans were given a taste of glamor and high fashion rarely seen in our city on Friday night.
The 2009 Capital Fashion Awards were held at The Park Ultra Lounge, where the nightclub was transformed into a runway showing off fall collections for Sacramento's top designers.
"There are so many other events for different genres but not any for fashion ... so we decided to do something different," said Richard Hallmarq, a local designer who coordinated the event along with six others from the local beauty and fashion industries.
The group got together and chose 13 judges that work in the local fashion, beauty and media industries. The judges were given paper ballots with each category and the nominees, and were encouraged to do their own research to make their decisions.
The public knew little about the show in the days leading up to the event, except that there was an awards show. Hallmarq's main goal for the evening was to bring the community together and shine a much-needed spotlight on the immense talent in Sacramento.
"I don't care if I win or lose, I'm just happy to be a part of it," Hallmarq, who was nominated for an award himself, said. "It's a way to recognize people in the community."
The evening was star-studded, with presenters like Jonathan Waud ("Make Me a Supermodel"), Merlin Castell ("The Fashion Show"), decorator Bobby Trendy, and Naima Mora and Caridee English ("America's Next Top Model") popping in throughout the show.
"I am elated to be in the state capital!" Trendy gushed before the show. "It's kind of like an Emmy award but without the Emmy!"
Local "stars" also made appearances and presented awards. Rachel and Sarah Campbell of TwinSoup.com, Sactown Magazine's Elyssa Lee, Marci Landgraf of Muse Salon and Hair Boutique, and The Sacramento Bee's Leigh Grogan all took the stage.
Sacramento's more well-known designers, Lauren Oto, Mercedes Ben, Dee Aguilar, Alexandria von Bromssen and Monte Christo all showed off their new fall and winter lines to the packed audience, who barely had standing room.
Dee Aguilar's line ran wild with everything from chiffon, shimmers and fur hoods going down the runway.
Mercedes Ben, of Benzo Couture, showed off spandex leggings, sequins, and fun takes on the classic, body-hugging "little black dress." Ben also got a head start on holiday party dresses, with wine-colored chiffon and creatively-silhouetted neutral-colored dresses.
Judging from the oohing and aahing, the audience was more than pleased with what they saw.
Mora, winner of the fourth season of America's Next Top Model, hosted the show and was more than happy to be involved. "Richard and I have been friends for a long time so when he asked me [to host] I of course said yes," she said.
When asked how Sacramento compares to other cities in terms of fashion, Mora said, "I like to look at each place individually. Every place I've been has something individual to offer and all of the designers [involved in the show] are gracious, endearing and wonderful. They have an extreme amount of talent."
Despite the big names, Hallmarq intentionally kept the ticket prices at a low $10 in advance so that everyone in the community could afford to come if they wanted to.
The show got a huge amount of support, with makeup by MAC cosmetics, models from Cast Images Talent Agency and hair by Strands Salon and Spa.
"It was hard in the beginning to get buy-in and support but once it got rolling not one person said 'No,'" Hallmarq said.
He says that he plans to make the awards show an annual event and hopes to bring in even more names and include even more of the community at a larger venue next year.