"Black Magik Woman II" celebrates female artists, photographers, and designers

Sarah White and Chastity Brown

Sarah White and Chastity Brown

Who would have thunk that a Monday-night happening in Minneapolis could be so hopping? The mostly millennial crowd at Norseman Distillery were dressed in their best swank for "Black Magik Woman II," a fashion photography show, organized by Connie Mrotek as part of Fashion Week MN, featuring an all-woman lineup of designers, stylists, photographers, and their muses. The vodka was flowing like water at this fancy cocktail event, which proved that there might just be a bit of L.A. here in Minneapolis after all.

Local music duo Holidae, who won this year’s Are You Local? contest, provided entertainment for the evening. While they certainly got the crowd moving, the main attraction really was the guests themselves, fashioned in the season’s hot trends: plunging necklines, flirty crop tops, daring fringe, and floral prints (and an exceptional amount of fur for April). Many of the models, designers, and photographers were present, along with their stylish friends and supporters, making it a perfect storm of high fashion (with an added bonus that the whole thing was free and open to the public). 

As for the photography, much of it looked like what you might see in a fashion magazine, except instead of being put together in New York, London, or Paris, it was all locally conceived and executed. For people thinking about shelling out big bucks for Givenchy or Dolce & Gabbana, you might consider adding some Lauren Kacher or Lauren Roberts’s Haus of Elle to your wardrobe.

MCAD student Lindsey Kusterman lucked out with singer-songwriter Chastity Brown as her model. Her photos, featuring styling by Anna Chambers-Goldberg, definitely stood out. Dressed in a kind of Grecian toga getup, Brown lounges atop a gorgeous vintage green couch as if it were her well-deserved throne. 

Sarah White, another singer-songwriter, displayed her photography skills in work featuring model Gigi Zirbes (with stylist Delayna Sundberg). The series sported some yoga-inspired poses with Zirbes also wearing a toga-like outfit in some of the pictures. (Are those in now?) White shows a knack for capturing a melancholy mood, helped along by her use of natural light sources and a sparse, warehouse setting. 

Floral designer Alexa Kelsey of Whimsy Designs had a strong showing in Athena Pelton’s goth images of Lindsey Dewitt, who was in dark-fairy mode. The macabre theme was furthered with leather accouterments provided by Haus of Elle’s Lauren Roberts.

Talia Wischmann poses with Jenna Mahr's photographs featuring her, styled by Madelynn Furlong.

Talia Wischmann poses with Jenna Mahr's photographs featuring her, styled by Madelynn Furlong.

One criticism of the show would be that there was definitely a reliance on mainstream ideas of beauty, with the models/muses looking a lot like the “ideal” images of women we see in the media every day. There were some exceptions, like Hannah Voxland’s shots of Ailey Gundersen’s gender non-conforming look, but for the most part it was a lot of white, cis, able-bodied, thin women. In an evening showcasing strong, independent female artists, it would have been nice to see a bit more diversity concerning what beauty looks like.

Still, it was great to see so much local talent all in one place, and to feel the excitement for Minnesota fashion and the women photographers that were a part of the show. It’s definitely an event you’ll want to RSVP to early next year.