Written and photographed by me. Originally published on Selva Beat.
I used to attend NY Fashion Week shows. I didn’t do this for any particular reason, except the spectacle and the thrill of getting in via, shall we say, non-traditional routes. I stopped going several years ago when my angst about what to wear outweighed the thrill. But when Kerry from Variety the Children’s Charity of New York reached out to me to attend “Emerging from the Runway: A Showcase of Sustainable Fashion,” her enthusiasm radiated through her email and I again wanted to be sitting on the row — but this time, I was properly invited. The show was co-produced by event, PR, and branding agency AMCONYC and Variety, in addition to one of their cohorts, The Door.
Open since 1972, The Door offers a comprehensive youth development program to over 10,000 disconnected youth in New York City every year. They offer a wide range of totally free services, ranging from reproductive healthcare and education, counseling and crisis assistance, legal aid, career development, supportive housing, recreational activities, arts, and nutritious meals. One of the workshops offered this past summer was fashion design, which included instruction in pattern making, silk screening with Gary Lichtenstein, fashion marketing/PR with AMCONYC, and catwalk lessons lead by Wilhelmina model, Daphne De Baat. Laboring under the mission of The Door, the people, work, creativity, and soul of the resulting fashion show was apparent.
The timing and professionalism of the event is perhaps where the similarities to NYFW end. The collections were deeply personal as well as socially and environmentally progressive. Instead of the marked lack of diversity that persists in traditional fashion shows, there was an array of different body types, skin tones, and gender identities stomping the runway. The models were the designers themselves, or friends, or peers from The Door — they were invested in the performance and you could see they were loving every minute of it. Diego Crown, who both designed and modeled said, “I was inspired to do a piece for me. Something that I would wear.” Pointing to his modified bell bottom jeans, he said, “This is something that I would really wear out in public.”