Minneapolis-St. Paul Fashion Week Hits Twin Cities’ Catwalk

February 22, 2012

This pony went to her very first fashion show last night. The Shows, to be exact. The marrying of heels and the blaring bass set pace for the strides of leggy models who stomped down the runway. All while the gaze of a captivated audience was only broken to fumble with an iPhone or whisper to friends.

My feeble attempt at cell phone photography.

My MNfashion Minneapolis-St. Paul Fashion Week experience was everything I expected: bright lights, loud music, slender models and incredible clothing. However, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of disappointment that I am just becoming familiar with the local fashion scene in the past year. Mainly because I haven’t been supporting and cultivating the local fashion community and I wish I had been. I grew up in the Twin Cities and went to school at the U of M, how could I not be aware of our designers?

Apparently, I’m not the only one. The studio-turned-runway was filled to the gills with bloggers, writers, fashion buyers, designers, students, models and pseudo-socialites (Kayla Humphries was down the row from where Miss Wuerffel and I stood). Where were the non-fashion-industry Minneapolitans? People interested in fashion as a hobby, a hunt and a means to craft a visual masterpiece. There was a very distinct group of people missing, the average consumer – those who buy the clothes.

It is a well-designed fluke I wound up at Minneapolis fashion week. Last December, I saw someone post a volunteer opportunity with MNfashion Minneapolis-St. Paul Fashion Week on Facebook and decided to like the page. More than two months later, I saw a posting about an exclusive offer for Facebook fans to purchase tickets to The Show and decided to pounce on them. After all, they were only 10 dollars and I was supporting my local community.

With sold out tickets to most, if not all, shows, MNfashion Minneapolis-St. Paul Fashion Week organizers are not desperate to fill seats but they’re missing an important piece of the puzzle – generating consumer hype for a collection through accessibility.

The online description of MNfashion is as follows, “MNfashion Week is dedicated to evolving the local fashion industry by giving independent designers, boutique owners and other industry professionals a chance to showcase their work and their brands, allowing them to establish a sustainable livelihood in the Twin Cities.”

How do designers, boutique owners and industry professionals succeed unless there is a strong push to bring creative work – whether clothing, accessories, hair and makeup styling or well-edited boutiques – to the front mind of the consumer. MNfashion Minneapolis-St. Paul Fashion Week is the perfect place to woo the Twin Cities consumer into shopping local fashion– as opposed to first spending money at chain stores like Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and Banana Republic. But, if the consumer isn’t present during events like The Show then most won’t have knowledge of the local fashion community or be able to allow “them to establish a sustainable livelihood in the Twin Cities.”

The idea of local consumer appeal to attend MNfashion Minneapolis-St. Paul Fashion Week also brought up questions surrounding inspiration for the Amanda Christine collection.

I didn’t expect to see the risks Alexandra McQueen took with shoes (think Lady Gaga-esque) but I thought there may be some risk on the stage: a loud print, an off-season hue or experimentation with texture. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the Amanda Christine collection. The gray Minnesota winter made me long for the whimsical floral prints and chunky sweater combos that graced the runway. After all, it is still winter. Interesting cuts and colors made this chic collection stand out and the pieces seemed very accessible – something anyone could pull off.

I wonder if this is a consideration for Twin Cities’ designers. Each designer wants to sell their clothes and make a living but Minnesotans are not known regionally, nationally or globally for a forward fashion-sense. Do local Minneapolis designers create with a Minnesotan in mind or are local collections designed to reflect larger trends?

All in all, attending The Show was a wonderful experience. I came away feeling inspired to search for local designer duds and be more involved in the community. I can’t wait until the next MNfashion Minneapolis-St. Paul Fashion Week… and to tell all my friends about it.

Some of my favorite looks are below. Photos courtesy of Corey Tenold Photography.