RVA Fashion Week wrap-up

It’s the end of the runway

Danielle Elliott
Staff Writer

This year’s RVA Fashion Week featured events that previous two years lacked: Runway at CenterStage is one of those events, partially a competition that allows audience members to vote for their favorite male and female models, but also a showcase of local designers and models.

The winning models receive representation by Kim Alley Models or Liquid Talent Group, the chance to sign a contract in New York City and a photo shoot and spread in a local magazine.

Models wore designs by South Moon Under, Ke’Chic Boutique, Pink, Dillard’s and Caché. Local designers Brehon, Lili Forrest and Dyanne Marte also contributed pieces to the show.

Lindsay Ess, VCU Fashion alumna and fashion coordinator on the RVA Fashion Week production team, said the competition portion of “Runway at CenterStage” was a way of giving back to the models that work throughout the week.

“This is the first year of our modeling competition,” Ess said. “As a model advocate, (and as a) … model growing up, I wanted to showcase our models and have a show specifically for them. I also wanted to bring out a different crowd, (like) their families and friends.”

There was an open casting call for the models that competed, but a majority of them were already involved in other Fashion Week shows.

“It’s really 80% of our cast,” Ess said. “It was open availability as well. If they already had an exclusive contract with an agency in New York or (Washington) D.C., then you couldn’t use them because they couldn’t get another contract.”

Ess, who was an adjunct fashion show production professor at VCU, has a background in theatre as well as modeling that helped her direct the show and train the models to be their best.

“My job is to teach other models as well as help people to build their self-esteem outside of the modeling agency,” Ess said.  “Regular people can become models too, it’s just all about confidence. It’s not really my goal to train the models to make them better models; it’s more of my goal to make them more confident in themselves.”

To Ess, confidence is the key to success in the modeling world, but there are some things that she can’t teach models – something she described as being “just in the blood.”

“You’re basically a walking hanger, and you have to perform to whatever outfit that you’re put in, and if you’re not able to get in to character, then you just can’t do it.”


t everybody can model,” Ess said. “Weight has nothing to do with it. It’s more of how you feel about yourself and if you can portray a certain type of personality that the designer of the boutique wants you to portray.”

However, Ess is confident that there are local models that have the potential to earn the NYC contracts.

“I do feel like we have a great majority of models here locally that could go up to New York or D.C. and get contracts. It just felt like it was win-win for all of us,” Ess said.

Audience members voted for their favorite models, one male and one female, and the winners were announced at the finale show on Saturday.

Friday morning, RVA Fashion Week flexed its philanthropic muscle with their Catwalk for Kids runway show and luncheon auction event at Rocketts Landing.

Catwalk for Kids is a nationally known organization founded by celebrity designer Mary Norton. The charity puts on fashion events that include auctioning off handbags made by hospitalized children and participating celebrities.

On Thursday, the organization hosted the Creative Collaborative, a private event at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond where volunteers worked with patients to make handbags.

The event consisted of a luncheon catered by Mosaic Unique Events, a fashion show, and an auction of handbags made by Kristen Stewart, Carrie Underwood, Stephen Colbert, Gabrielle Union and Amanda Peet, as well as a mini-concert and stories from children at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond.

Tinsley Mortimer, a handbag designer from Richmond who was also featured in two episodes of The CW’s “Gossip Girl,” was at the Catwalk for Kids events to show her support with Richmond’s own “American Idol” contestant, Zak Resnick. Local singer/songwriter Susan Greenbaum also took time to design handbags with patients.

The funds raised on Friday were to benefit the Pediatric Cardiology department of the Children’s Hospital of Richmond to help pay for an expensive pieces of life-saving machinery.

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