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Sacramento Fashion Week – it’s about more than pretty clothes

Sacramento Fashion Week – it's about more than pretty clothes
SACFW 2013 – designer Yennie Zhou (returning for this year’s Fall/Winter showcase)

Sacramento Fashion Week is in full swing, and as anyone familiar with the cutthroat nature of the fashion industry knows, with haute couture comes huge egos. But don’t bank on this year’s catwalk getting catty. Co-producer Will Rodriguez and the rest of the SACFW team have something a little different in mind.

“What we are trying to do is unite the fashion community,” Rodriguez said, “and promote this idea of working together, because we all want the same thing – to improve our city and improve our economy through collaboration.”

SACFW has been growing since it started as a one-day event in the spring of 2006. In 2011 Sacramento was first listed on the International Fashion Week calendar, and it now spans one full week, this year from Feb. 24 to March 2nd.

“If you were to compare this year to the first couple of years, Sacramento Fashion Week has literally exploded in terms of size as well as the quality of talent,” Rodriguez said.

SACFW has amped up its outreach by adding panels and workshops that involve the local community. By showcasing Sacramento retailors in addition to emphasizing branding and marketability in the designer selection process, there are also elements of local economic restoration in play at this year’s SACFW.

Sacramento Fashion Week – it's about more than pretty clothes
Maisha Bahati is a Sacramentan designer who will be featured in the March 1 Spring/Summer Showcase

“We want to create an environment that is safe for designers to nurture their skills, collaborate with local businesses and keep designers in Sacramento,” said SACFW Public Relations Coordinator Maria Serquen. “We want artists to have a voice, and for editors and buyers to come take a look at and potentially do business with the talent we have here Sacramento.”

The major additions this year include the Boutique Show and Shop on Feb. 28, during which local retailers will showcase their wares on the catwalk. Attendees will be able to purchase their favorite pieces directly following the show.

Social Gone Vogue and Fashion on Film are also new to this year’s SACFW. Hosted by Sacramento Social Media Club, Social Gone Vogue will feature a panel of fashion experts discussing how social media works in fashion. Fashion on Film, hosted by the California Film Foundation, will showcase a number of short films all about fashion produced by regional and local filmmakers.

Model and former winner of America’s Next Top Model Naima Mora will also be in Sacramento for this year’s fashion week. Mora first came to Sacramento in 2009 to serve as the mistress of ceremonies at Sacramento’s International Academy of Design & Technology (IADT) fashion show and has been hooked on Sacramento and its student designers ever since. At Sac IADT she met and has since collaborated with local avant garde designer and former Sac IADT student Richard Hallmarq, currently featured on Lifetime’s “Project Runway."

“I love Sacramento,” said Mora. “People in Sacramento are very supportive of one another. Its fashion industry is blossoming more each year…I don’t think people realize the level of talent coming out of Sacramento in terms of design and fashion. Schools like IADT and CSUS have some of the most active student design programs in the country.”

Sacramento Fashion Week – it's about more than pretty clothes

One of the many things on Mora’s agenda for this year’s SACFW will be Monday’s Fashion Forum at CSUS where she, along with other fashion industry experts, will talk to students about her experiences in the industry and offer advice to up and coming designers. She will instruct particpants on how to be fierce during the Runway: 101 Workshop at Sac IADT on Feb. 26 and will aslo host a signing for her book “Model Behavior” at Face It Salon on Feb. 27 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Those proceeds of Mora’s book will go to the Junior League of Sacramento, the benficiary of this year’s SACFW.

Sacramento Fashion Week will culminate with weekend runway showcases on held at the Elks Tower Ballroom on Friday, March 1 and Saturday, March 2 at 6 p.m. According to Rodriguez, this year’s selection process for designers was more vigorous than ever.

“We look for originality and consistency within an entire collection,” he said. “We look at the quality of construction…The new thing we added this year was marketability. We want to start focusing attention on branding and how the designers represent themselves. There is this whole business aspect of fashion that might get neglected, because designers work from passion and not business.”

Sacramento Fashion Week – it's about more than pretty clothes
Janelle Cardenas, Hawaiian-born and Sacramento-raised, will be featured in the Fall/Winter showcase

You can find a full list of the featured designers for the spring/summer collections here and the fall/winter collections here. According to Rodriguez, Sacramento fashion followers can look forward to a keen focus on well-constructed ready-to-wear pieces that can be taken straight from the runway to the street and reflect much of what is currently trending in fashion nationwide.

The Sacramento Press will be live-blogging Friday and Saturday’s runway showcases. If ready-to-wear trends are indeed what is in store, a few of many things this writer will be on the lookout for are sheer or lustrous fabrics and bold patterns that call back to Mother Nature – think floral or animal print – as well as dramatic silhouettes created by everything from exaggerated or otherwise accentuated shoulders and voluminous sleeves to peplums, flowing backs or open, loose-fitting forms. 

However, it’s not always all about trends. Let’s also look forward to seeing innovative ideas unique to Sacramento that will leave the crowd gasping for more. With George Clinton is coming to Sacto early next month, I’m hoping to see SACFW designers bring in just a little bit of funk as well.

“We’ve got a bunch of surprises in store,” Rodriguez said, in closing. “That’s all I can say.”

For a full list of Sacramento Fashion Week events, check the SACFW website.

Editor’s note: Every Thursday we deliver a local event guide straight to your inbox, right on time to make your weekend plans. Sign me up.

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