The West 18th Street Fashion Show is an annual free event with a limited number of VIP runway seating available for purchase. It is held outdoors in the middle of 18th Street in the Crossroads neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri, on the block between Baltimore Avenue and Wyandotte Street. It is no coincidence that the event is held on 18th Street, which has become a hub of art and fashion in Kansas City.
This year’s show, themed Summer in Spain, included the creative works of designers Cheryl Eve, Eli Borrowman, Dominique Karowski and Steven Chau, just to name a few of the extremely talented designers shown. Although, most major cities that have an annual fashion week do not restrict designers, consider it the charm of Kansas City to not only show in the middle of summer but to also require local designers to base their individual collection around one common theme. Guidelines posted on show’s website for applicants clearly indicated that, those designers who do not fit their creative vision or branding into the dictated theme will not be considered http://westeighteenthstreet.com/blog/category/news/. Although this may not prove to be a challenge for a newer designer where their brand name is not yet synonymous with a specific style in the world wide industry of fashion, it may have for an established world renown designer with existing clientele. Show attendees questioned whether the show excluded great work and great designers for the sake of the dictated theme. There is no doubt that Kansas City has many talented designers established as well as up and coming. However, show attendees may have to wait until the show producers come up with a theme that coincides with the design philosophy of each of these designers, in order for them to be accepted in this annual show.
Of the eighteen collections shown this year, many were geared more towards traditional fashion. However, the above named designers created works that appeared to have some elements of costume design which thrilled attendees out of their seats to get a closer look. Jewelry designer Cheryl Eve in collaboration with tailor Nicky Janzen constructed metal breastplates to look like algae-inspired bustiers, capturing the feminine version of contemporary body armor, worn by Spanish conquistadors. These beautiful copper mermaid like creatures, floated down the runway showcasing the intricate work of the cutout copper and crystal detail. Designer Eli Borrowman, describes her collection as inspired by the traditional activities from the culture of Spain. She specifically looked to bullfighting, Tomatina (tomato fights), and flamenco dancers as well as quilting. Last but not least, sticking true to theme, designers Dominique Karwoski & Steven Chau, are inspired by the Spanish delicious wine punch, sangria, which serves as their color palette. The collection expresses the warm fiery passion between two dancers interlocked in tango and the models were styled with bull like horns of hair. Dominique has been a professional tailor for five years and is currently working at Halls on the Plaza. Steven is a St. Louis native who has lived in Kansas City for the past several years working as a computer developer who has been designing layouts for both print and web. More information on each of the designers can be found at http://westeighteenthstreet.com/blog/category/designers/
A strong academic and professional background in the industry or even a substantial following is not necessarily a requirement to get into the show. Despite that, the work shown was pleasing to the audience as made visible, by the full to capacity seating and lined roof tops. It is a well known industry fact that fashion show expenses for designers run between $60K to $80K for the bare minimum, and selling the brand to buyers is the goal to get a return on that investment. However, shows like the 18thstreet fashion show, allow designers to showcase their work for a fraction of the cost to at least the local consumer if not professional buyers of national and international retail venues.