The models may have stepped off the runway at New York Fashion Week, but if you’re still hungry for hot new fall fashions, the nation’s capital has what you need. D.C. Fashion Week started on Monday and will be in full swing through Sunday, Sept. 26, giving all us clotheshorses and fashionistas an opportunity to behold designs that even the New York elite haven’t seen yet.
D.C. Fashion Week, which started in 2003, was conceived as a reaction against the closed-tent policy and exclusivity of New York’s event at Bryant Park. The event serves as a way for up-and-coming designers from the D.C. scene to showcase their work in an arena close to home, but in a way that can garner international attention. It’s also a way to show the world that Washington can out-dress the suits on C-SPAN.
“D.C. has an image of being conservatively dressed,” D.C. Fashion Week founder Ean Williams said. “But there are a lot of people that have an eclectic and vibrant fashion sense outside the mainstream we see on Capitol Hill. … D.C. is not just a Brooks Brothers city, but a city of active people with active nightlife. And they show that in their style.”
Unlike the overwhelmingly corporate and luxury feel of the New York Showcase—now officially called Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week—this show’s sponsors skew local. Contributors include the Washington Times, Mie N Yu restaurant of Georgetown, and a number of other local businesses. The AARP chipped in, too. Yes, that AARP. So when they say this isn’t your mother’s fashion show, they’re right—it’s actually Grandma’s.
Another refreshing difference between the New York show and D.C. Fashion Week is that here, it’s not all about the celebrities—although a number do come, they’re not essential to the show.
“It’s ridiculous to pay a celebrity $75,000 to sit on the front row of your fashion show to get recognition for your show,” Williams said. “Our focus is on the designers and the clothes.”
In keeping with Washington’s diverse collection of nationalities and cultures, D.C. Fashion Week has an international flare to it, too. Independent designers from as far away as Ghana, Argentina, and Ethiopia get access to full shows and excited crowds in D.C. In New York, these designers often get overshadowed by bigger names, if they even get into the spotlight at all. Williams pointed out that the top five designers from Ukraine all made their international debuts at this year’s fashion week.
You can find D.C. Fashion Week’s events in some of D.C.’s best neighborhoods. Tonight, you can catch a show at Tabaq Bistro on U Street, where the D.C. United soccer squad will be modeling Mauro Farinelli’s Wolf vs. Goat label, a melding of preppy and sporty casual styles for men. On Saturday, Crystal City’s Doubletree Inn is hosting the Washington Menswear Collections, and the French Embassy is hosting the International Couture Collection on Sunday night. Williams recommended that college students with IDs show up early on Sunday for the happy hour from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. to mingle with the crowd before the show.
While D.C. may not have felled trees on the National Mall to make room for the event, as they did in Central Park, D.C. Fashion Week is still an amazing week of fashion that.
Tickets and information can be found on dcfashionweek.org. Tickets for a private showing with Keenan can be purchased at firstname.lastname@example.org