Arts and Entertainment

‘Vashonistas’ showcase the Island’s flair for fashion

Esther Edelmen is dressed to the nines in Dova Silks apparel. - Courtesy photo
Esther Edelmen is dressed to the nines in Dova Silks apparel.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

A group of independent Island designers will shine a spotlight on Vashon’s burgeoning fashion scene at a gala event planned for next weekend at Open Space for Arts and Community.

The event, “Viva Vashonistas,” will bring together Island apparel designers, fabric artists and jewelers for a night that includes a runway fashion show, circus art performances, live music, desserts, beverages and boutique shopping.

“We have a world-class design and fabric arts community here on Vashon Island, whose clientele and following span the globe,” said Karen Person, an educator who will be one of the runway models at the event. “It’s a privilege to have all of them under one roof and witness such overwhelming collective talent.”

The fashion show is the brainchild of a collective of Island designers who have dubbed themselves “Vashonistas” — a group including almost a dozen designers and artists who have pooled their resources to showcase their work and promote the idea of Islanders buying locally made clothing and jewelry.

“I’d love to have Vashon known as a designer’s haven for wild and punchy clothing and accessories,” said group member Sally Shivers, who collaborates with Dova Silks to create tailored jackets and form-fitting coats.

Shivers explained that Island designers make clothing to fit all sizes and shapes of women, and that will be reflected at “Viva Vashonistas!”

The show will include more than two dozen models, ranging from teenagers to senior citizens, who will strut the runway wearing up to 50 different outfits ranging from traditional tailored clothing to chic street wear.

Another group of models, dressed in black, will show off a wide range of accessories and jewelry made by local artisans.

And in contrast to the rail-thin models who appear on runways in New York or Milan, the models appearing in the Vashonistas’ show will come in all sizes.

“You can be a size 18 and still look gorgeous,” Shivers said. “We make all sizes, and they look fabulous on everybody.”

The show will include fashions by Dova Silks, Wild Life Clothing Co., ReGenr8, Heron’s Nest, Ciszek Designs, Cicada, Global Revolutionary Fashiondesign Co., Mica, Kronos, Elemental Stitches, jewelry designs by Kathleen Kinney, costume designs by Patricia Toovey and brooches by Anne Gordon.

The event at Open Space is the third fashion show organized by the Vashonistas, with each of the shows taking place at successively larger venues.

The first show, held at Two Wall Gallery in October 2007, marked the group’s debut, and created such a stir that the group quickly organized a second show, which was held at Red Bicycle Bistro in February.

That show was an even bigger success than the first one.

“We sold out on a Sunday afternoon, in the rain and the winter,” said Nancy Scott-Wienker, who makes one-of-a-kind handbags from repurposed materials.

“We were really quite impressed with ourselves,” she added. “People were so enthused by all the incredible talent and emphasized that we needed to do it again.”

This time around, the show will take place at the cavernous Open Space for Arts and Community, and organizers said they are excited that there will be room for a freestanding boutique where Islanders

can purchase fashions that were created locally.

The space will also allow for a dramatic aerial performance by UMO Ensemble member Martha Enson, as well as the appearance of stilt-walkers on the catwalk.

The evening will also feature performances by the Hobson-Person Trio, Jessica Kenney and other musicians, as well as a cash bar featuring beverages and desserts.

Scott-Wienker pointed out that almost everyone involved in the show, from technicians to models to designers, hails from the Island, and that Sustainable Vashon had awarded the Vashonistas — who are currently applying for status as a nonprofit group — with a grant for the show.

Best of all, Scott-Wienker said that some of the proceeds from the show would be donated to Vashon-Maury Community Food Bank — a donation intended to recirculate funds within the community.

She said she hopes Islanders come out in droves to celebrate Island fashion at the event.

“From the catwalk to the sidewalk, these are slow fashions for fast times,” she said.

“Viva Vashonistas!” will take place from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, at Open Space for Arts and Community, 18870 103rd Ave. S.W. Tickets for admission and one dessert are $20, and are on sale at Heron’s Nest, Dova Silks, Kronos and The show is for ages 21 and older only.

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