WRJ’s Fashion Weekend 2016


Full cast & Crew info here: fashionthrope.blogspot.com

ReneFrancesG
Keeny Paige
Mark Ezra Merrill
Sophie Kirpan
Allyce Good
Alyssa Couture
Daisy Shaver
Erin Mullen
Orin Pacht
Stacy Hopkins

Full cast & Crew info here: fashionthrope.blogspot.com

How it started:
The genesis of White River Junction's Fashion Weekend (hopefully we're working our way towards a bonafide week!) began in 2001 when Kim Souza, the then owner and operator of the specialty boutique Revolution, began her spring and fall runway exhibition featuring models of all ages and sizes wearing items available for purchase in her store, which also included selections from local designers. Over the years The Revolution Runway grew in scale and now includes over 40 models with up to 80 looks, so you can imagine the level of production this entails! In 2013 Kim made the tough decision that she would only produce the fall show, leaving local designers (many of us because of Kim's Runway shows aware of each other's presence) jonesing for a spring show. So in 2015 I initiated the first annual "Spring Collective" hosted by the Main Street Museum featuring 100% local designers, and in 2016 we showcased work from nine local designers.

Is there is a yearly theme?
Right now, there's more a vision than a yearly theme. You see it's because of the success of the fashion shows here in the Upper Valley for the past 15 years, and because of this overwhelming support pouring out from our local community that I have to ask, “where can this all go?” To me a design community is a rare and special gift, one that I hope to nourish and see grow in ways perhaps no one else expects. Within five years I see us moving full throttle towards a true design collective, encompassing all aspects of design, production, marketing and sales––with our own unique “made in VT” line. This design collective in fact could look something like a design ‘school’ or fashion ‘institute’–– that’s how I’m envisioning it to be at the moment. I’m very inspired by the concept of the Scandinavian cooperative MUUSE and have my own particular slant on this idea––that is, what we could do here in Vermont. 

How are designers and modes are selected? 
Currently our collective is organized and run by local designers and advocates for local design here in the Upper Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire. We work from January to May in preparation for our spring show. Anyone is welcome to participate, but this is a very 'boots on the ground’ type operation, so there's a great deal of commitment and planning that goes along with exhibiting your work. If you are willing to make that commitment then you're welcome to show with us, no matter where you live! So far we've had designers in high school right alongside folks with 30 years in the biz interested in exhibiting with us, but in the end it's all about that commitment. The show is a very intimate salon style runway, designers show in multiple rounds or in very quick changes. Designers are responsible for securing their own models and we continue to encourage models of all ages and sizes. To date this concept has worked out exceedingly well.

Do you pick a different charity to donate to every year?
Another reason why our design collective is so special is because it is part of the Main Street Museum's new educational outreach programming. The Main Street Museum is itself a local 501(c)3 non-profit community based art center (with an exceptionally odd victorian flair) now entering its 25th year of operation. The Museum has supported a wide range of community events in the past, and is now pleased as punch to be able to extend its resources to the local design community. Our goals here are to enable a sustainable local design community and present opportunities of growth and advancement for designers. I believe all opportunities like these start with conversations, just like the one we’re having now! 

Who are some of your sponsors?
This year was the first year we needed to seek out sponsorship. Revolution’s events are a much larger production and therefore generate more revenue. In 2105, because of the more intimate scale of our production, just selling-out all of our seats didn’t quite generate enough revenue to break even. So, for that reason this year was really the litmus test to see whether we could pull it off––if an all-designer showcase could support it’s own weight. There was an ultimatum that if we did not at least break even this season––there would be a serious question as to whether the Museum could continue footing the bill for these productions which are quite costly. But we did it, and we did it with the help of local individuals and business (the entire list included below). For me personally, the most amazing thing I’ve found about working with our fashion community is the power that is has to unite even the most diverse regions of our community. In previous incarnation I was a studio painter for 15 years and I’ve never felt this sort of ‘togetherness’ –– it’s quite something to experience. 

 

* ALL PHOTO CREDIT: http://www.benfleishman.com

A Note from the Producer:

A Note from the Producer:
In the previous two year’s I’ve been producing these shows there’s always been one or two comments that have stayed with me––you know, something someone said that gave me that extra-special little something to affirm my efforts––this year it came from one of the models, and I’m not sure who, but someone referred to me as “Vermont’s own Tim Gunn” …now and that’s a compliment I can surely live with!

Mark Ezra Merrill
Designer, Co-founder WRJ Fashion Weekend
Complete Sponsor list for WRJ Fashion Weekend Spring Collective 2016
Underwriters: Revolution, Hiv/HCV Resource Center
Sponsors: Susanne Abetti, Nancy Heyl, Raq-On Dance, Hotel Coolidge, The Silver Screen, Streamline: Artisan Upholstery, Northern Stage, Daily UV, Ronin Hair for Men
Contributors: Farnum Hill Ciders, Harpoon Brewery, Co-op Food Stores, Upper Valley Food Co-op, Valley Flower Co., Oodles, Aujudi, Nutty Steph’s, Elixr, Molly’s, Candela Tapas Lounge, Stinson’s Village Store, Yama, Base Camp, Oriental Wok Express

Special Thank you:
Susanne Abetti
Kim Souza
Nancy Hyle
Rebecca Levi
Michael F Bryant
 Erin Mullen
Center for Cartoon Studies
Upper Valley Young Liberals
Karrie Cosgriff
Robina D’arcy-Fox
Hilary Mullins
Max Perkins Cornell
Matt Bucy
Robert Craig Baum
Kevin Burke

DeAnna Thomas

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