Establishing Washington, D.C. as the center of international fashion is the goal for D.C. Fashion Week founder Ean Williams.
“There’s an amazing culture in Washington, and we wanted to show that,” says Williams, the executive director of the fashion week, presenting its 28th season Thursday, Feb. 22 to Sunday, Feb. 25.
Williams says that many things make the experience in Washington different from those of other locations; DCFW is one of the lowest priced fashion weeks in the world and the most diverse, he says.
“We feature all ethnicities on the runway, of all sizes. We were the first fashion week to have real full-figured models, up to size 18 and 20, on the runway,” Williams says.
Aside from seeking an array of different models for the fashion-filled event, the DCFW executive team aims to feature many different talents, including designers and musical artists. In the 2018 DCFW experience, designers are broken into four shows: Eco Fashions and Next/Gen Designers (college designers sponsored by DCFW), Haiti Fashion, International Couture (collections from well-established international brands) and Emerging Designers.
The Metropolitan Emerging Designers and Indie Artists (MEDIA) Showcase this Saturday in Arlington features designers with different levels of experience, some making their D.C. Fashion Week debut. Williams says the vision behind the MEDIA event is to merge the worlds of music—including live band performances—and fashion to create an opportunity for everyone involved. “These new designers may want to create pieces for these artists to wear in the future, or these artists may need models for a video.”
Maryland Institute College of Art senior Margaret Garrison, who learned of the showcase from classmates, uses unconventional materials to craft familiar silhouettes and says she plans to continue designing upon graduation. “I love experimenting and everything that goes into apparel. I feel as though I’m going to end up doing something that I don’t know exists yet,” she says.
Najla Burt, creator of fashion brand Dur Doux and graduate of the Parsons School of Design, first participated in DCFW two years ago. Burt’s fashion line was recently featured in New York Fashion Week as part of the Macy’s Red Dress Collection, where Burt designed a dress worn by Law and Order actress Elisabeth Rohm.
Burt says the fashion week experience is imperative for burgeoning designers. “You learn how to present and how to engage the public to your brand in a large way. It’s a big entrée for any designer, especially those that are new.”