WEB EXTRA: Conscious Couture: Fashion Week comes to DC with a purpose

New York? Of course. Milan? Naturally. Paris? That’s obvious. But Washington D.C., home to thousands of starched collared politicians, congressmen and lobbyists hosting its very own fashion week?

In a city where who you are voting for is more important than who you are wearing, it is hard to imagine that this past weekend the nation’s capital played host to D.C. Fashion Week. From February 28 through March 4, models, photographers, designers and a list of who’s who in Washington filled various venues throughout the city to catch a sneak peak in to what the spring season has to offer.

Highlights included The Fair Trade Show held at the World Bank in partnership with its Youth2Youth Committee, along with The International Finance Corporation’s Grassroot’s Business Initiative and the Pangea Artisan Market and Caf?. The show included Fashion for Development, a group that aims to promote the work of designers who represent socially conscious brands.

Other highlights included a whimsical ready-to-wear Betsey Johnson spring collection held at the trendy Club Avenue, a collection by the African Student Association at Howard University, a swanky Menswear collection held at the Smithsonian, and a chic semi-formal-attire required International Couture Collection held at the French Embassy-a show that arguably most mimicked that of those in more fashion conscious city.

D.C. Fashion Week, however, is unlike any other. Unlike L.A. or New York where A-list celebrities flock to shows for photo-ops and freebies, D.C. Fashion Week aims to increase economic development in the area of fashion, showcase new designs on a local, national and international level, as well as enhance the nation’s capital as a hub of fashion.

“We are fashion with a mission,” said Ean William, director of Fashion Week and designer of his own collection “COJOR.”

As a non-profit organization started four years ago, D.C. Fashion Week has its heart rooted in promoting new designers and raising fashion awareness, a mission not likely to be found on the other glossy cat walks.

The week saw local high school and universities showcase their talents at the various shows, most notably the “Noire” show held at Howard University.

The week also gave local aspiring models a chance at runway fame.

“I’m trying to get a start. I just graduated college and am looking to get in to modeling.” said Jordan, 23, a model in both the Menswear and Couture shows respectively. “D.C. Fashion Week is a growing fashion venue and it’s a great place to start.”

The week may not be filled with Hollywood-type celebrities, thousand dollar swag bags, or clothing so expensive it rivals that of a new car, but, as William’s points out, that is not the point of this unique fashion week.

“Our designers design clothing that sells.” said Williams.

In fact, most of the designs seen on the runways this past weekend were ready-to-wear clothing and can be found at local stores and boutiques.

What exactly attracts these designers to D.C.’s Fashion Week as opposed to any other?

“There is no real sense of fashion in Washington,” said Stella Bonds, the noteworthy designer of the colorful and eclectic men’s collection from her namesake label showcased at the menswear show. “I am hoping to bring a unique style to D.C.”

The collections showcased some of the most praised talent in Couture, Menswear, and ready-to wear- designs.

So what if you’re not sitting next to Scarlett or Beyonce? It may not be New York, L.A. or Paris, but after the shows this week, D.C. may well be on its way.

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