Arts and Entertainment

Vashonistas put art on the runway

Karen Person models a jacket designed for the annual Vashonistas fashion show.  - Jeff Dunnicliff
Karen Person models a jacket designed for the annual Vashonistas fashion show.
— image credit: Jeff Dunnicliff

Last week, while returning to the office after a meeting with members of the local fashion design collective The Vashonistas, I had to slow down and wait for a peacock, of all things, to cross the road.

The bird, with its outrageous plumage and iridescent colors, seemed a poetic reminder of what I’d just found out in my interview with some of the Island’s best-dressed people.

The Vashonistas, as it turns out, are getting ready to put on quite a show, and it’s happening this Saturday at Open Space for Arts & Community. Dubbed “Fusion,” the evening will boast an elaborate runway show featuring the work of more than a dozen local designers, as well as performances by tango dancers and a world music singer. Audience members can also sip cocktails and nibble on hors d’oeuvres as they go boutique shopping before and after the show. A deejay will provide danceable tunes throughout the evening, and local performing powerhouse Mik Kuhlman will emcee.

It’s the fourth time the group — helmed by Islanders Karen Person, Patricia Toovey, Roxy Hathaway, Nancy Scott Wienker, Sally Shivers and Dorothy Dunnicliff — has put on an event of this kind, and each time, the scale has gotten bigger. Their first runway event, in 2007, was held in the Two Wall Gallery, and the next year the show moved to Red Bicycle Bistro. Their last presentation, in 2009, was held at Open Space for Arts & Community, and this weekend they are returning to that massive space.

The group’s mission is to showcase what is being created by what they call a world-class community of designers and fabric artists — a group whose clientele and renown reaches far beyond the confines of the Island.

“Vashon is getting better known as a center for fiber art and textiles,” said Toovey, a local artist known for her outrageous costumes. “This is a chance to come together and juice it up.”

Designers in the spotlight at “Fusion” include Hathaway and Scott-Wienkler, whose company produces handbags made from found materials. Milliner Laura Clampitt will offer a look at her new hand-blocked hats, and jewelry designer Christine Azula Phillips will show a line of feathered and jeweled fascinators and earrings.

The youngest designers, Michael Brinker and Marion Ray, are planning a dance-punctuated trip down the runway by more than a dozen models hired to showcase their “leather and stretch” inspired line of clothing. Natural fiber clothing by Marnie Nordling and gowns by Terra Bullock will have their moment in the spotlight. Models will also strut new ensembles by Shivers, whose line is called Wild Life Clothing, and Dunicliff of Dova Silks.

Anya Weill, whose company is called Spicy Green Mango, will show what she calls “cross-cultural, women-empowered, community-based clothing and accessories,” and Karen Gelbard will debut new hand-woven jackets and coats reflective of Pacific Northwest landscapes.

Toovey has created a “trash fashion, 100 percent recycled lottery dress” for the event and will also supply the closing act of the fashion show — a costume that is being kept under tight wraps by organizers.

“Fusion” will have its sexy moments as well Tesse Crocker will debut new one-of-a-kind corsets, reconstructed menswear and other clothing during the show, and Elizabeth Klob will show off sumptuous evening gowns.

The Vashonistas promise something for everyone at the show — fashions for all ages, shapes and sizes.

“Our goal is for people to express themselves through their own creativity, which is fashion,” said Hathaway.

“This is a more diverse show than something you would see in Seattle, where fashion shows tend to (explore) the same genre,” said Brinker. “There is a sameness there.”

Prices for clothing offered in the boutiques, organizers said, will range from $30 for accessories to far more expensive ensembles — a move by the group to ensure that the event appeals to people with varying income levels.

In the meantime, the Vashonistas are working hard to ready all their creations.

“Everyone is sewing like crazy until the last minute,” said Hathaway.


Doors for the show at Open Space for Arts & Community will open at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets, $50 for catwalk seating and $30 general admission, are on sale at Dova Silks and A portion of the proceeds will go to benefit Vashon Youth and Family Service’s HART program.


We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the Oct 26
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates