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Sac Fashion Week kicks off: Local designers, retailers, fashion enthusiasts mix and mingle downtown

It was Coco Chanel who once said fashion does not exist in dresses only. “Fashion is in the sky, in the street. Fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, and what is happening now.”

Fashionistas young and old were in full force in the streets of downtown on Sunday evening, making their way to Mix Downtown, where love and support for local designers, retail shops, and all things chic was in the air and palpable. Sacramento Fashion Week — a week-long series of workshops, forums, parties, and runway shows that foster local talent — got underway the only way those in attendance knew best, in style.

"I like to see the up and coming designers,” said Ashleigh Banks, a Fashion Week veteran who has made sure to catch the shows for the past five years. “I’m a photographer and designer myself, so I like to see what’s new. Every year is different, and it just keeps on growing.”

The Launch Party, this year’s first official affair, was free and open to the public. Fashion lovers of all ages had the opportunity to meet members of the SACFW production team, mingle with some of the runway designers and models, and have their pictures taken paparazzi-style. With two full bars and appetizers galore, the luxurious lounge was laden with excitement for what’s to come the rest of the week.

Since its founding in 2006, SACFW has seen a tremendous influx of interest and every year, the gaggle of style gurus and aficionados who attend only grows larger.

This year, tickets to all three of the runway showcases sold out within days of release. The most anticipated of the three is the Boutique Runway Show and Shop, to be held Thursday at Elks Tower. On Friday and Saturday, the Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter shows will run, respectively.

Along with the 16 designers who will be showing their collections, six local retail shops and consignment boutiques will also showcase looks, put together with the most stylish merchandise they have to offer. Afterward, fashionistas will be able to purchase their favorite items hot off the catwalk. Abe Sanchez, owner of Article Consignment Boutique in East Sacramento, was thrilled about the opportunity.

“What’s great about the show,” Sanchez said, “is that it just affirms the fact that consignment [and shopping local] is cutting-edge, it’s runway, it’s now. You’ll see on Thursday that what we have on the runways is pretty contemporary, pretty edgy, and pretty fun. We’re honored to be involved, especially since it’s the first year they’ve added it.”

Sac Fashion Week kicks off: Local designers, retailers, fashion enthusiasts mix and mingle downtown
Sanchez (second from right) having some fun with other SACFW team members.

Anna Karapetyan of Mélange Boutique and Nellie Badikyan of Style Magazine, both first-time Fashion Week attendees, were cozied up to one of the convenient fire pits in the lounge. They are just a couple of the many who unfortunately missed the opportunity for seating at one of the runway shows.

Sac Fashion Week kicks off: Local designers, retailers, fashion enthusiasts mix and mingle downtown
Karapetyan and Badikyan, posing for the camera.

“I really wanted to go to the boutique show, but it sold out very quickly,” Badikyan said. “But I’m just glad to be here, and be a part of the party tonight.”

Just one of the many changes to the SACFW line-up, the boutique show will follow a series of various new workshops and forums. On Tuesday, the International Academy of Design and Technology will host “Runway Modeling 101,” a fun workshop for models both professional and aspiring, and “Social Gone Vogue,” a panel discussion with industry professionals about the benefits of effective social media strategies.

Wednesday’s itinerary contains “Fashion on Film,” a screening event sponsored by the California Film Foundation. Coordinator Martin Anaya said the evening would shine light on the local fashion industry. “What ties it together is that they are all Sacramento filmmakers, all local,” Anaya said.

Missy O’Daniel, owner of Allure Salon & Spa, was also among the fashionable party-goers. This year, O’Daniel and her team of hair and makeup artists will be hosting a beauty workshop at Allure on Wednesday.

Sac Fashion Week kicks off: Local designers, retailers, fashion enthusiasts mix and mingle downtown
Missy O’Daniel, owner of Allure in Midtown

“We will be going over hair and makeup trends, and giving ideas on how to recreate the looks you see on runways,” O’Daniel said. Allure is the official salon of SACFW and is responsible for show beautification, working with each designer to create a cohesive look for his or her collection.

Wonder what Allure will brush up for Maisha Bahati, a born-and-raised Sacramento designer who will be showing for a second year in the Spring/Summer showcase. While happily sipping her cocktail, Bahati revealed that she will send a resortwear-inspired collection down the runway. “The inspiration for me this year was very beachy and tropical, very feminine and sexy, very exotic,” Bahati said.

Sac Fashion Week kicks off: Local designers, retailers, fashion enthusiasts mix and mingle downtown
Maisha Bahati, Sacramento designer.

Bahati discussed some of the changes she had noticed to the SACFW organization in the two years she’s been involved. “A lot more press is involved, and it’s an entirely bigger event,” Bahati said. “Designers are a lot more detailed, and models a lot more experienced. Everything is getting better and better – we had rehearsal earlier today, and it all went well, so I’m excited for the show!”

“We’ve grown a lot since 2006 of course,” said Bridgétt Rex, who has served as SACFW’s Editor-in-Chief for the past two years. “But in just this past year we’ve grown exponentially, and it’s about time!”

With many more sponsors than in years past, more professional guidance, and growing community support, Rex said the expansion of SACFW is the product of the people involved.

Sac Fashion Week kicks off: Local designers, retailers, fashion enthusiasts mix and mingle downtown
The SACFW production team.

“I think this year is going to be our best year yet,” said Rex. “I’m really proud of us because we’re always moving forward, never backward. It’s always good progress.”

For a complete list of Fashion Week events, click here. And tune in at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday for The Sac Press’s live coverage of the weekend’s runway shows.

Editor’s note: The “News Digest” goes out every Tuesday morning and highlights our best stories, photos and videos from the week prior. Sign me up.

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