When people think of Washington, DC, the first thing to come to mind is politics. While yes, men and women in suits on the Hill is a common sight to see, the culture that exists in DC runs deep, too, creating a whole other interest in the nation’s capital that can go unnoticed.
“I think people have the misconception that what they see in terms of our two biggest businesses, which is of course tourism and politics, is that people are dressed for those parts,” says Ean Williams, designer and founder of DC Fashion Week. “But we have such a vibrant nightlife, artistic history and creativeness, where there are opportunities for people to really show their fashion sense.”
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Twice a year, upcoming and established designers from around the world—including individuals from Indonesia and Pakistan—have the chance to showcase their looks to the community of fashion-forward individuals at DC Fashion Week, which will be celebrating its 15th year and 31st show, from Sept. 21 to 29.
“I think there is a beat that DC has, it’s in the music, rhythm, the way people walk, and I think that’s what draws you into it,” says James C. Wilson, area director of BCBG Max Azria, this year’s only guest retail designer at DC Fashion Week. “There is a big fashion culture here, but it’s specific and I think nowhere else has it.”
BCBG Max Azria’s spring line, which will be debuted at this season’s showcase, features deep greens, exaggerated shoulders and asymmetrical looks that are classic, yet spunky, according to Wilson. Plus, there will be a lot more straight jeans on the runway in general, as “the skinny is out,” says Wilson.
Baille Gelwicks, regional director of the Fashion Group International of Washington, DC, Inc., is looking forward to see the expected common theme of the show: color.
“Neon green and pink dominated the runway shows of past seasons, so I expect to see the emergence of another unexpected and punchy color,” says Gelwicks.
In addition, she recommends keeping an eye out for company IconiQue’s latest collection, featuring elegant evening wear, which can be seen at the 31st International Couture Collections Showcase on Sept. 29.
While the fashion scene in the region wasn’t always considered one to watch, many local designers value the opportunity to show the community new, carefully crafted designs.
Nicole Coleman, a Northern Virginia-based jewelry designer, is participating in DC Fashion Week for the first time this season, just two years after debuting her collection of handmade leather pieces with company Sow Cole Creations.
“I’m excited to present my brand to the world,” says Coleman. “I know I can relate to the everyday women, and this is my chance to share it with the region.”
The entire event started as a platform tailored for all shapes and sizes, as well as all ethnicities, in order to truly emphasize the cultural hub that exists in Washington, DC and the surrounding region.
“Throughout the years,” says Williams, “We’ve had challenges but we’ve been able to show that fashion is one of those things that connects everyone.”
For a full schedule of this season’s events, click here.