This past Sunday I attended Fashion Under the Big Top: the Greatest SEW on Earth produced by W. Vaughn Glover's Waki Wear Productions at the Embassy Suites at the Hilton in Independence, Ohio. There are fashion shows, and then there are fashion events- and this right here, this right here was a FASHION EVENT ok! A show within a show within a couple more shows lols. Guests arrived at 4:30 pm (most gloriously dressed in white with pops of color as requested on the invite) mingled with each other, browsed the vendors, enjoyed small bites and a cash bar before being ushered into their seats by Vaughn's dedicated staff.
Hosted by 2015's Plus Size People's Choice Model of the Year- the awesome Samantha Walker- who did a great job of keeping the crowd entertained and engaged in between the action packed and fast paced show. We were first treated to the Xalter Zaughn Collection, Vaughn's ready to wear line in his signature fabrics and distinct tailor made aesthetic. I live for Vaughn's shows cause he selects his male models carefully and believes in giving us women eye candy- very rare at fashion shows lol.
Fashion Under the Big Top was the perfect title for this production because there were a number of competitions and showcases under one roof. There was the "Three Ring Runway Competition" which featured the 19th annual Fashion Knockout Designer of the Year, the 1st annual "Queen of the Needle" crochet competition and the 1st annual "People's Choice" runway model competition. Not to mention a lit hair presentation by Sir Pooh, an encore showing of last year's Designer of the Year winner Gwen Hodges from Indianapolis, Indiana and special guest designer Fly Ty from Detroit, Michigan. I had to leave around the time for the little kids presentation, but I did manage to catch snippets and they were too cute!
The entertaining host and the crowd participation helped move the show- with the audience being able to vote for their favorite designers and models you could feel the crowd really getting into it. Usually for a show of this length and with an intermission, it can be too much for my short attention span to take, but there was never a dull moment and from the time the first model walked out, the runway was never empty- a pet peeve of mine.
I was so excited to attend this event. Not just because of the show itself, but because of what it means to our city. See Vaughn has been doing this for the past 26 years and he has helped bring recognition to independent designers from all over allowing them a place to showcase their talents. Cleveland, Akron, Indianapolis and Detroit designers and models represented in this show and they all received equal amounts of love from the crowd
"It is my purpose on earth to provide a venue for designers to showcase their gifts to the fashion world," Glover states. "I don't pursue my passion for the income, I pursue it for the outcome."
And that's so real...cause it seems like when it comes to fashion, the Midwest- Cleveland in particular is always passed over and not included in the dialogue. And it's even worse for urban/minority designers, but for close to three decades Waki Wear Productions has given talented designers a legitimate platform to showcase their work and win awesome awards, cash and prizes (he has had a deal with Baby Lock sewing machines and has awarded winning designers with pricey industrial sewing machines over the years).
For so much to be going on the production ran smoothly and even when I visited the models backstage there was a calm that is never usually present behind the scenes, which is how you know that the production itself was top notch. I mean yes there were last minute fittings and hair and makeup touch ups and small minute things, but there were no designers running around frantic trying to find out the order of the show, or trying to locate their clothes or models, no models looking for a misplaced high heel, or not understanding who they were walking for... no burning candles near highly flammable fabrics and weave lol.
After starting from the bottom as a show dresser, to styling scenes for my own runway shows and other's, and now gaining backstage access as a blogger, any Cleveland fashion show I attend is like a mini family reunion. I run into models I have worked with over the years, new faces that I've seen at other shows, hair stylists and makeup artists who make their rounds, as well as up and coming and established designers. Many fashion show guests become familiar faces too as they go from show to show supporting a model, designer or just the overall love of Cleveland fashion and style, and it's just a beautiful thing.
I ended up sitting close to Vaughn's family, including his sister and aunts who were clearly his biggest supporters and offered up hilarious commentary the whole time lol. One aunt told me that she has only missed one show in twenty something years and his sister made sure I was in a prime spot for taking my photos and videos lol, even bringing me back a plate of fruit after intermission as I chatted through the break. I had a blast and was amazed at the amount of talent in that room, everybody from the hair and makeup artists, to the models who WALKED that runway and especially the designers that dressed them. See for yourself in the video below and make sure to leave a comment!
*Designer of the Year Winner: Nelli Millard
*Model of the Year Winner: Martika Dabney
*Queen of the Needle Winner: Stephanie Morris Nunn
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