One of the most exciting things about Envision Artopia this year had nothing to do with fashion on the runways, but rather fashion on the patrons. It was easy to take a look at stylish people in the crowd proudly displaying their own personal style and know we're part of a city growing more fashionable each year (Check our our Envision Artopia Photobooth here).
The night started off with promise, as all Envision Artopia installments have in the past. As a production, you can't touch it -- it's flawlessly carried out from the gift bags to the lighting to the vendor booths, venue and beyond. Local house DJ Jevne manned the music this year and even strapped on a bass guitar to boost his set, making for a lively runway soundtrack.
Gina Marie Vintage kicked off the first half of the fashion show around 10 p.m., black and maroon flowing fabrics flying down the runway and tied together with Jeffrey Cambell (or JC-inspired) lace-up platforms on the models. My favorite look was a pair of maroon shorts over black leggings and a beautifully-draped jacket, giving high hopes for the styling that appeared to be improved from years past. The makeup was flawless and hair worn in pretty long-and-loose curls, but accessories clashed and the overall bold factor was low.
Menswear designer Kelly ver Duin only showed four or five looks this season, which was a disappointment as the collection from last Spring was so full and entertaining. Ver Duin also showed an underwear line which livened things up for the audience. It should have seemed more out of place for a fall fashion show but fit next to the sunny and lightweight fabrics used by the other designers.
This year's trends around the globe point to streamlined parkas, color-blocking, over-the-top fur, military style, and mix-and-match patterns, but designers didn't offer much of this on the Envision runway. One local style writer exclaimed, "It's like they're not paying attention." Looking around during the runway segments, there were more than a few yawning faces -- unfortunate for a fashion season so ripe with possibility. I found myself looking around at what the attendees were wearing when lines on the runway were unfulfilled.
A high point of the second half of the show was YQY by Vivian, whose bold juxtaposition of different red and black prints recall a 60s-era picnic. The boutiques presented nice lines as well, Drama and Karma showing some long sweaters and belted looks, and Cliche unsurprisingly nailing the styling and accessories.
In all, the run-time of the event was perfect (not too long, not too short) and the production spot-on. Looking around made you proud to be in stylish company. But for too many years in a row, a number of lines shown were irrelevant to the season at best; uninspired and lazy at worst. But the real question at this type of show is not "Are you inspired by it?" but instead, "Would you buy it?" and for me this time around, chances of that were slim. I'd love to see bolder picks next year and clothes that get us excited for the season, but I'll be in attendance either way because it's the great people, sponsors, venue and producers that make Envision a don't-miss event.