DC Fashion Week – Day 3

September 19th, 2008 at the National Press Club marked the 3rd day of DC Fashion Week where 2 of Kazakhstan’s premiere designers showed 2 uniquely different collections.

I will start by talking about the make-up looks. When I arrived at the staging area in the exquisite 14th Street National Press Club building there were a few make-up artists that had started. After setting up my kit I went over to ask the other artists what the look should be and was told that it was a very dramatic smoky eye (designers love this look for the runway) with a twist. The eye should be rimmed in white with the black smoky effect lining the white. They wanted tons of mascara so that the look would be very reminiscent of Twiggy from the 60’s with her trademark invention, “Twiggy’s”.

Once the designers saw the look that the artists had created they decided that the artists did not truly capture the look so they decided to meet to discuss an alternative look. Although this is not an easy look to create it can be done if you have the right brushes and a bit of patience.

While the designers were caucusing (my Tim Gunn word), I decided to start on one of the models that had already done her make-up with a black smoky eye. She knows that at some fashion shows the models may end up having to do their own make-up if there are not enough artists. I thought she did a beautiful job on her make-up but it needed a bit more oomph for the runway, which is exactly what I did. I deepened the eye for more drama and gave her more color for her amazing sculpted cheekbones.

Once I was finished my model (who apparently speaks something like 4 different languages and the official translator for the day – who says models are dumb clothes hangers) went over to the designers to see if she could be of assistance and the designers loved my look – TOO COOL!

(On a side note, while I was doing this beautiful girl’s make-up this very stylist Asian gentleman came over and started speaking to her in Russian and she told me that he may have a role in a movie they are filming in Kazakhstan. I hope it works out for her!!)

As you can see I love doing before and after shots on my models (sometimes with only foundation and powder) for my make-up portfolio so I thought that I would selfishly show a bit of my work here. I should mention that the male model was given to me to create a silver circle on the eye for one of the most dramatic looks of the entire fashion show, but more on that later.

Now on to the FASHION!
P.S. I apologize for the terrible pictures. The space was beautiful but the lighting was not ideal and since I was doing faces and packing up my kit until the moment of the show I was unable to get photos backstage.
The first designer to show was Akkenje Devyatko who boasts that each of her pieces has spirit and its own character. This Asian designer gave us exactly what I think of when I think of Kazakhstan in winter: LAYERS!
However, Akkenje gave us drapey, dramatic, unexpected layers. There were heavy patchwork robe-like coats done in colorful patterned silks and jacquard velvets. Bikinis were surprisingly shown as an under-layer and there were many fabrics used including cottons, silks, velvets, wools and furs.

Akkenje had all of the hot jewel tone colors that everyone will be wearing this Fall and Winter – deep hunter green, eggplant and pumpkin; lots of black and grey with accents in turquoise, pink, true red and yellow. Like many of the New York collections, the designer showed animal print and tartan.

The knits were fantastical and heavily corded wools, capes were trimmed with contrasting fabric, and the evening looks were Egyptian harem style gowns in colors like silver, gold lamé and deep red velvet.

A key word that I wrote in my notes was headgear, which I am sure is necessary for a Kazakhstan winter. Akkenje’s twist on the hood was to style it with a visor, and the woolen knit caps were done oversized. Other headgear examples were colorful scarves and dramatic headdresses.
Near the end of the collection came THE dramatic piece of the evening. The only male model stepped onto the catwalk and the entire audience was abuzz with whispers and applause. The chiseled-body model wore a bright orange corset trimmed with white faux fur, matching thong cut bathing suit bottoms, a bright sparkly orange tulle skirt, and one white fingerless glove; to top it off the entire look was covered with sparkling white tulle fabric and a white silk flower. I was finally able to see the drama of the silver circle eye make-up that I did on this model and was thrilled that I aided the designer in making this pieces true vision realized. Like all great fashion shows there is a wedding dress look and this was Akkenje’s version.

The second collection was Kuralai by Kuralai Nurkadilova who designed the sportswear line for Kazakhstan in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

This collection was much more wearable for the sophisticated, luxury American audience because the silhouettes were classic and simple. Even the all neutral color palette was simplistic using only black, cream and champagne with an occasional splash of sea foam green. What made this collection amazing were the details, but more on that later.

Kuralai showed over exaggerated 40’s style shoulders on blouses and jackets. There were champagne silk high slit pencil skirts and cropped pants amongst the silk tops and day dresses. One of the main emphases of the collection was on sheer fabric that was seen on many of the looks.

Eveningwear is where Kuralai really showed her couture talents. There was black and sea foam green seaming details geometrically and lovingly placed to either modernize the silhouette or to highlight the curves of a woman’s body transforming each piece into walking art. This detail was also used to make the eye dance across the garment.
Some of my favorite looks of the collection were the beaded embroidered pieces. This amazing, heavy bead work was used on everything from the bodice of an evening gown to handbags, brooches, killer headpieces, and an extraordinary ball skirt. Unfortunately my camera did not do these pieces justice because the large beads that you see are not black but a deep jewel tone sapphire blue (YUMMY) that was all over the Fall/Winter 2009 runways.

One of the bullet points in my notes was Chloe Dao because Kuralai’s attention to a woman’s body reminded me of the looks that Chloe did on season 2 of Project Runway.

1. From Akkenje’s line one has to remember that theatrical collections are just for the runway and one must dissect the pieces in order to establish the must have items. With that said I loved the champagne iridescent lamé draped, knee length dress. This dress was shown with a heavy black velvet blouse with a gold velvet collar and cuffs but I could see it worn alone with a pair of hells and my full length caramel colored mink coat or paired with a black thin knit cashmere turtleneck sweater, black wool tights and a pair of black ankle or knee high boots. Keeping the rest of your look toned down in all black will not only deemphasize the shiny quality of the dress but it will ensure that the dress is the highlight of the outfit.

2. I love over the top looks so the grey woolen knit piece with a sculptural hood, leg warmers, and tartan print hot shorts also from Akkenje’s collection MUST live in my closet. Like all good stylists I own one of a kind pieces that are mere works of art. I try to incorporate them occasionally into my wardrobe, but they are mostly reserved for very special occasions. Although the hood looks likes the hat Fat Albert’s friend Dumb Donald wore, I would rock it all winter long (sans the visor). Anyone that knows me knows that I am always cold and that I am famous for wearing over the top hats.

The cable knit tank top with separated sleeves would be great paired with jeans or you could even go with work appropriate pants. If you are going to wear this look to work to hide the exposed midriff you will need either a great silk camisole (keeping it in the jewel tone colors of the season) or a button down cotton shirt in a solid color or a pattern, if you dare and I do!
Luckily I am short, thin, and have great legs so a pair of tartan hot shorts would become a staple in my summer wardrobe; with a simple white tee or tank and a pair of simple flats or Keds.

3. Next on the list would have to be the silver beaded hand bags and headdresses from Kuralai’s collection. 4. With so many incredible and coveted pieces in the Kuralai collection (picks 4-8 are all Kuralai’s collection) it was hard to limit my selections but my 4th pick would be a light-weight wool, slim Edwardian cut, black suit with champagne silk trim on the shawl collar and pockets. The same champagne silk fabric was used to extend the short sleeve into a ¾ length sleeve jacket. This look was paired with a “Made in Kazakhstan” t-shirt and one of the oversized beaded bags mentioned in my 3rd pick – FIERECABULOUS!

5. A 50’s style silk cream and sea foam green short sleeve, notch collar swing coat where the designer used her masterful hand to quilt stitch the sea foam sections and to lay the same geometric black seaming detail she used in many of her looks.

6. There was a show stopping evening gown that had a beaded corset top, sheer champagne train length skirt trimmed in champagne silk fabric over a black silk skirt. What made the garment unique were the sheer, silk trimmed pockets that were cut into the sheer top layer of the skirt.
7. Just saying “A black ruffle layered cocktail dress with lace trim” does not do this knee length, red carpet worthy dress enough justice so I hope the photo gives you an idea of this dresses beauty and so you can understand why this is one of my picks.

8. The truly coveted look of this collection for me was the sheer, champagne skirt suit with the sheer shawl collar. There were tonal silk geometric seaming details on the jacket which also had exaggerated 40’s style ¾sleeves where the champagne silk shoulder pads could be seen through the fabric. Because the suit was created in a sheer fabric it was shown over a champagne silk mini dress. The suit came to life when Akkenje added the beaded belt and matching handbag. This look was a modern twist on Sean Young’s “Blade Runner” look that we all associate with style from the 40’s – FIERCEABULOUS!!
Stay fashionable!

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