Fashion Journalism 101: Covering Couture

Post-Standard intern and Art Journalism graduate student Alejandra Acuna gives the skinny about covering fashion in Syracuse.

Syracuse Fashion Weekend has quickly become the talk of town. I was at the event as a journalist, a fashion-lover, and a student all at the same time, which gave me a new perspective to the intertwined limbs of culture, style, and education. Syracuse is a city that is sprouting with talent trying to find a new angle in the creative world of runways.

Being an intern for The Post-Standard has put me in some pretty awesome situations. On Friday, my task was to cover Syracuse Fashion Weekend, and it has been quite the adventure.

It was the second time I covered a fashion event in Syracuse and was not quite sure what to expect. Unlike the casual Syracuse Fashion Show, which took place at Armory Square in September, and was free for all who were “in the neighborhood,” the event at Oncenter's Nicholas J. Pirro Convention Center was specifically asking for tuxedos and knee-length dresses or longer, and required a ticket.

Once my editor confirmed that I was on the press list, the second most important task was at hand: finding a dress.  I found an LBD (little black dress) and headed to the event an hour early to claim my all-access pass at the door.

The first thing I did was run backstage. I was ready for the preview of the collections, but most importantly, I was ready to meet the designers. It wasn’t long before attendees waltzed into the lobby. Glasses of champagne and wine sparkled under the lights as the room filled with anticipation as the hectic backstage stumbled with eyeliner, heels, underwires and combs.

Photo: Alejandra Acuna

Electronic music began to play outside as I struggled to find the designers amongst the flying fabrics and sprinting models. This was not an easy task, since 15-year old models that looked 20 ran amongst student designers who looked like young models themselves.

Student fashion designer Chloe Schnell is a junior in Fayetteville-Manlius High School. That’s right, she’s 16, and modeled at New York Fashion Week. Her architectural designs are black and white, with sleek lines, sculpted necklines and extravagant textures like leather and feathers.

"I wanted the shapes and edges to be clean and dramatic," said Schnell. "I have a lot of random mixed textures. It's something I look for more in fabrics than the color."

The other local talent in the show was from our own house here at Syracuse University. G Hyun Kim and Tiffany Wu showed off a nine-look collection, which was the most wearable collection of the night. Women looking for versatile chic garments can look sophisticated in flashes of gold on black.

Syracuse is a very special pocket for fashion. It is third in the country for its fashion department and because of this, the location creates the potential.

Suddenly, I found myself in the presence of Esmeralda Harwood, executive organizer of the event. She is a Syracuse resident who works with Moda Style International, a fashion magazine founded in 1999. It publishes and distributes in Lebanon, but covers the fashion world in an international scope, including Fashion Week in Europe and New York City.  Moda Week International's "Syracuse Fashion Weekend" was held to benefit Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital.

The most interesting concept of this show is the mixture of haute couture fashion worth nearly $500,000, in the same show as juniors from the Syracuse University Art Department.

"Syracuse has a special potential because there is nothing like this here, there is nothing as beautiful or special dedicated to this kind of art," said Harwood. "There's passion, there's love for fashion and we are inviting a new generation so they have the opportunity to be a part of it."

Syracuse Fashion Weekend was my first exposure to true couture.

Being part of the Art Journalism program has taught me that even things that at times seem silly can have a great intellectual importance to society; that is precisely what Syracuse Fashion Weekend taught me.

The idea of $500,000 dresses being sold in Syracuse seemed somewhat out of place to me… that is, until I saw it. Fashion has always been an interest to me, but seeing Lebanese designer, Walid Atallah's, grand finale wedding dress was the first time I truly understood the concept of couture as art.

Attalah’s 22 designs were the centerpiece of the event, embellished with sequins, studs, even spikes, mostly centered in the torso; each designed with an obvious sophistication and unfaltering edge.

He received a standing ovation with the finale’s bridal gown that took center stage of the runway as all the dresses took their last round on the catwalk.

Photo: Alejandra Acuna

The off-white masterpiece was simply regal, with pearls and Swarovski crystals overflowing from the heavy train, leaving everybody with the satisfied feeling of witnessing true couture.

What does it mean for the city of Syracuse to experience this quality of couture in first person? It means the start of new respect for fashion not as a superficial field of its own, but as a respected field within the world of art. Having events like this gives Syracuse and local fashion-lovers like myself a new perspective for an underappreciated treasure right here in our own backyard.

Post new comment

* Field must be completed for your comment to appear on The NewsHouse
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.