By John-John Williams IV, The Baltimore Sun
12:04 AM EDT, September 15, 2012
Christian Siriano, Maryland's best-known fashion industry personality, might have had one of the best showings at last week's New York Fashion Week events. But the state's couture offerings did not end with him. Area designers, hair and makeup artists and models also made their mark. Their participation ranged from shows associated with household names such as Isaac Mizrahi, The Row, Monique Lhuillier and Nicole Richie, to burgeoning designers such as actress Jennifer Hudson, who released her first line of women's wear. Here's a behind-the-scenes look at their NYFW experiences:
Stevie Boi, designer
A glance at the gated apartment complex just blocks away from Lexington Market, you would never know that it houses the designer of some of the world's most lauded eyewear.
The work space in designer Stevie Boi's apartment near Lexington Market is peppered with materials: frames, fabrics, studs of various shades and sizes, and garment bags filled with finished products.
In early September, designer Stevie Boi was preparing for his runway show at New York Fashion Week, showcasing his latest collection of sunglasses and clothing. His show was themed "54," inspired by the famed night club and taking place at Yotel, a swanky futuristic hotel in the heart of midtown Manhattan.
"I'm really just an African-American gay boy working in this field, which is very different," said the 23-year-old, born Steven Cordell Strawder. (He adopted the moniker "Stevie Boi" in high school.) "I've traveled everywhere. I'm not nervous about it. I like breaking boundaries."
Stevie Boi's show was attended by the cast of VH1's "Love and Hip Hop" and "Basketball Wives," as well as camera crews for the latter show. The runway show lasted a total of 30 minutes and was filled with tons of disco music from the peak of 54's popularity.
"It's a production," he said just before his show. "I want to make sure everyone sees each piece."
He tweeted about the show success afterward: "My show last night was so amazing!!! Everyone was in the building supporting!! I thank you all for believing in me and my brand!"
The week wasn't over for the Marylander. He also provided eyewear a couple of days later for designer Michael Kuluva's Spring 2013 show. During the rest of Fashion Week, Stevie Boi tweeted about meeting with editors from Vogue — he's already been featured in the publication numerous times — and Elle.
Caitlyn Meyer, makeup artist
Caitlyn Meyer, a Westport-based freelance makeup artist, was in New York for fashion week to shoot a "look book" for jewelry designer Pamela Love. She defended Baltimore's place in the fashion industry.
"A lot of people expect that being from a smaller city that there is no way we'd have place in a city like that, because New York is so dense," the 27-year-old said. "But I think they like us because it's refreshing to get a breath of fresh air. The trends that are found in New York are here as well."
Ade Jaiye, model
Ade Jaiye, a model from Bowie, participated in QVC's annual show, which was filmed and televised live during Fashion's Night Out in New York City.
QVC has been involved with fashion week events since 2008, said Jaiye, who has participated in each show for the television station. During the show, Jaiye modeled couture by such names as Isaac Mizrahi, Dennis Basso, Nicole Richie and Jennifer Hudson. In past years, Jaiye has worked for designers such as Marc Bouwer, Cynthia Vincent, Heidi Klum, Rachel Zoe, Erin Fetherston and the Kardashians.
"I've definitely lucked out working with these designers at QVC," said the 31-year-old, who is represented by modeling agencies in New York, Philadelphia, and by T.H.E. Artist Agency in Washington.
Working in New York during Fashion Week gives Jaiye unparalleled energy.
"It's game time," she said. "I have my game face on. I get in the mentality that it's not about me. The client is trying to sell their product. It's going with the flow. It's about everyone working together. It's being fully present and allowing myself to enjoy it, which I always do. From flying across the street, to the traffic and the horns, I love it."
Kenneth Saenz and Jimie Machniak, hairstylists
Kenneth Saenz and Jimie Machniak, stylists at K.Co Design Salon and Day Spa in northern Baltimore, worked New York Fashion Week for the first time last week.
Saenz worked at the Elle Fashion Next event, Jill Stuart and Monique Lhuillier. Machniak worked at shows for The Row, Theory and Libertine.
"I was just psyched," said Saenz, 55. "Monique Lhuillier is known for her wedding dresses. Jill Stuart puts clothing on the likes of Angelina Jolie, Anne Hathaway. Could it be any better?"
Saenz said he immediately called his mother when he learned that he had been chosen to be a part of the elite shows.
"She was out-of-control psyched. At the salon, we were absolutely thrilled," he said. "When you go to Fashion Week in New York, you can equate it with being in the Super Bowl."
The experiences of the shows were both pressure-filled and incredible, according to Saenz.
"At runway shows, there is always excitement," he said. "The pressure is all around you. It is an incredible thrill. People are always popping in. For example, Rose Byrne popped in backstage at Jill Stuart. Everything gets pretty intense. But the intensity is a lot of fun. It is what you do."
Machniak made some sacrifices to work at the three runway shows.
"I cut my vacation short about four days, but it was well worth it," said the 45-year-old. As luck would have it, he worked with an instructor from Kérastase in New York in the spring who happened to be recruiting stylists to work the Fashion Week shows. He sent her a couple of pictures of his work, and in less than a week received word that he was chosen to work three shows.
"I don't know if I was surprised — I was excited about these shows," he said during a break while working backstage at the Libertine runway show.
"You certainly don't do it for the money," he said with a laugh. "It's for the prestige of it. There isn't anything larger in our industry."
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