Fashion Week Focuses on Everything NWA – The Free Weekly


April Wallace
awallace@nwadg.com

There never seems to be enough time to plan NWA Fashion Week, its organizers tell Interform, the arts and culture nonprofit that plans and executes all of its events. But this time they had three years to prepare rather than one.

Designers featured at this year’s NWA Fashion Week include Rosie Rose, Southern Gypsy Fashion, Ellen Elaine, Orez, Bryce Arroyos, Felix Bui, Asserraj Haus of Fashion, Amy Leuenhagen, Gwen Nguyen and Ashton Hall. (Courtesy picture)

Thursday’s show kicked off the first NWA Fashion Week since 2019, and you can bet the team at Interform has been hard at work planning it this whole time.

One particularly new and exciting thing about this year’s events is that so many of the apparel, materials and designers are products of Interform itself.

NWA Fashion Week 2022 “features the most designers or garments made in-house by Interform creatives (than ever before), and this season we’ve covered the cost of all shows from up-and-coming designers,” says Robin Wallis Atkinson, CEO of Interforme.

Throughout the year, Interform offers community sewing classes, with opportunities to make sales and gain experience on the catwalk. It has a cohort of designers so participants can develop their professional skills and even a cohort of curators that culminates in a month-long exhibition.

A number of NWA Fashion Week hosts are former pros who have graced the events before, such as Sunshine Broder and Rochelle Bailey, and several designers have paraded before, including Ashton Hall and others.

“People love to see these (familiar animators and designers), especially those in the community, to see that we have these amazing artists in our own home,” says Elanor Jones, marketing coordinator for Interform.

Five of this year’s designer shows are from Interform’s designer residency program, and of the 25 shows, Interform paid for the material costs for 10 of them, as well as all production costs for the show. Interform’s tailor shop, says Atkinson. “All were produced within the confines of our educational and programming guidance with mentors across the country,” she says.

More than 80 creative works will be represented on the catwalk, including those of 21 hair and makeup artists, 13 dancers, 25 design students and 23 designers, said Robin Atkinson, CEO of Interform. (Courtesy picture)

The NWA Fashion Week events that continue March 11-12 are what Interform funds all of its other programming, Jones said.

Interform’s focus areas of enabling designers to “learn, make and show” are what guided its rebranding from the Arkansas Arts and Fashion Forum.

“Going under a new name gives us room for expanded programming that we’ve undertaken,” Atkinson says. But it’s still “under the same idea of ​​providing education, production and exhibition opportunities in fashion and the visual arts.”

Education courses are all year round. Curatorial practice can be gained during the designer residency program, and their tailoring studios produce garments both for sale and for NWA Fashion Week events.

The last NWA Fashion Week was in 2019, before the pandemic put so much on hold for two years. Events return tonight, Friday and Saturday at Momentary in Bentonville with a focus on apparel, materials and designers that are products of Interform itself. (Courtesy picture)

The culmination of it all is a very local and diverse show. Of the 25 shows, 20 are Arkansas-based creatives. Four of them feature 25 distinct individuals from the Interform community’s sewing classes, including those from the Congolese, Marshallese and Latin communities, Atkinson says.

“In total, there are more than 80 creatives whose work is represented on the runway, and more than 80% of them are from our region,” says Atkinson. NWA Fashion Week guests can expect to see 188 models of all body types on the runway.

“We did auditions on January 9 of this year, and everyone goes through the same process, regardless of background,” Jones says. They get measurements done, they walk for the head of programming, and then the designers choose the models for the look. “People on the track look like people in the audience, with a diverse set of bodies, whether it’s age, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.”

Atkinson and Jones say people are already reacting to offers for this year’s events, which is reflected in the rapid closure of their ticket sales. Tickets for Saturday night are 95% sold out, so they expect that night to sell out.

Thursday’s show featured a local designer and 16 transgender, intersex and non-binary models from the Transition Closet. Organizers say 10% of the show will benefit the organization that helps people in gender transition by lending clothes, a particularly expensive part of transitioning.

Headlining March 11 is the Walmart Beauty Aisle Hair Show, which focuses on the hairstylists and makeup artists who pull the look together. Waste Garden by designer Bryce Arroyos, who was formed through a long-term relationship with Crystal Bridges and in response to the “In Some Form or Fashion” exhibit at Momentary, will also be featured that night.

“It’s specifically about the industry’s kind of problematic sustainability angle, but highlights art as fashion,” Jones says. “Arroyos is the ideal solution for an installation project where fashion meets art. We brainstormed with the Momentary curators, and we’re very happy with the results, we can’t wait to hear more. »

The final evening will feature New York-based designer Rinat Brodach, who featured on Amazon Prime’s “Making the Cut.”

NWA Fashion Week guests can expect to see 188 models of all body types on the runway. “People on the track look like people in the audience, with a diverse set of bodies, whether it’s age, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation,” says Elanor Jones, marketing coordinator for Interform. (Courtesy picture)

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FAQs

NWA Fashion Week

WHEN — Until March 12

WHERE — The momentary in Bentonville

COST – $60 – $225

INFO — https://interform.art/fashion-week/

BONUS – There will be a panel discussion on “The Rise of Regional Fashion” at 2 p.m. on March 12 at the Tower Bar at the Momentary. Free entry.

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