Catch a glimpse of Vashon fashion on the runway this Sunday

Dorothy Dunnicliff, a clothing designer featured in the show, fits Karen Person,“mistress of ceremonies,” in a hand-dyed silk garment by Dunnicliff. - Amelia Heagerty/staff photo
Dorothy Dunnicliff, a clothing designer featured in the show, fits Karen Person,“mistress of ceremonies,” in a hand-dyed silk garment by Dunnicliff.
— image credit: Amelia Heagerty/staff photo

They call themselves Vashonistas.

They’re Island designers of clothing, costumes and accessories, and they often can put together a custom ensemble of “wearable art” for the same price as an outfit from Nordstrom.

Last week, a half dozen Vashonistas gathered in Dova Silks, preparing for a fashion show this weekend of their one-of-a-kind clothing — from everyday wear to dramatic evening attire.

The women, elegant, composed and cheerful, laughed as they worked on the upcoming event and custom-fitted one of the show’s models. Their exuberance was palpable in the airy, colorfully decorated shop behind the Heron’s Nest.

“This was a chance to really find the talent of so many women on the Island and their creations and share it with other women on the Island,” explained Roxy Hathaway, a designer of unique handbags whose work will take the stage on Sunday.

She and a dozen other Island women have been designing and creating the 40 outfits of Island couture that will adorn models during Sunday’s extravaganza at the Red Bike.

More than 15 models will strut the runway dressed in everything from hand-dyed silk and quilted corsets to circus dancer getups and handbags made from repurposed materials.

It’s a chance for the artisans’ Vashon fashion to gain a little exposure, noted “mistress of ceremonies” Karen Person, in a show where a portion of proceeds go to the Vashon Maury Community Food Bank.

Person — an eighth-grade humanities and Spanish teacher at McMurray Middle School — and an array of models will become Island fashion icons, if only for an afternoon.

Friends, family, customers and performers, from high-schoolers to grandparents and from political activists to actors — they’ll all take the stage at Sunday’s show, said Dorothy Dunnicliff, owner of Dova Silks and one of the show’s designers.

She hand-dyes silk in a spectrum of colors, often laboring over cauldrons of boiling water to create the colorful and fluid fabrics that she sews into clothing. And her clothing is washable and dryable to boot.

Custom hand-dying and designing clothing is a dying art, she and other designers noted.

Patricia Toovey, a fellow silk artist, created circus dancer costumes that will grace the runway on Sunday — including a “tuxedo rumba outfit” that the show’s only male model will wear.

Sunday’s stylish event is Vashon’s second runway show. The first, in October, was held in the hallway outside Dova Silks. But organizers happily reported that they’re moving on to a much roomier venue.

“We started small, and now we’re going to the Bike,” Hathaway said.

“Who knows? Maybe next year we’ll have to hold it at the Seattle Center,” chimed in jewelry designer Ginny Ciszek.

Person said this year’s show is more playful, more theatrical — take Toovey’s whimsical circus ensembles, for example.

“We’ve jazzed it up a little,” Person said.

She said she thinks Islanders should take the opportunity to see Vashonistas in action.

“This is their gift to the people of Vashon,” she said. “I’m not the artist, so I just feel like I’ve been given such a gift.”

All the pieces in the show will be on sale afterward, and each piece of clothing can be custom fit to its wearer.

Buying clothing made on Vashon, Person said, makes an impact.

“The tiny environmental footprint you’re making is amazing,” she said. “And our artists are our industry.”

Vashon’s Island couture runway show takes place at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 15, at the Red Bike. Doors open at 1:30 p.m., and a raffle of Island goods and services to benefit the Vashon Maury Community Food Bank will be held before the show begins.

Tickets are $10. All ticket sales for the raffle go to the food bank, and so does a portion of ticket sales. Tickets may be reserved before the show at the Red Bicycle.

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