Central New York’s fashion community struts its stuff at Syracuse Style

The third annual Syracuse Style fashion show showcased Syracuse's growing fashion scene, and plans to keep getting bigger and better.

Syracuse is not New York City, but that doesn't mean its residents can't have a "fashion's night out." But these days, “fashion's night out” is less about “fashion” and more about the “night out,” and that was the case in Armory Square on Thursday, Sept. 20.

The combined forces of 15 downtown boutiques and two local designers powered the third annual Syracuse Style fashion show, which put local models, designers and boutiques on display. People gathered outside Empire Brewing Company, 120 Walton St., around 7:30 p.m. Armory Square already looked and sounded like a party: white tents up, colored lights on, club music served up compliments of DJ Tom P. Two rows of seats on each side quickly filled up, and crowds of people stood outside the tent, waiting for the show to begin.

Michael Benny from CNY Central acted as master of ceremonies, at times battling against uncooperative sound equipment. Some technical problems popped up during the night, but it didn’t have too much of an effect on the show as a whole.

The models walking down the runway were diverse; a few young, fierce wannabe-pros, but many were locals playing it more casual, with their families and friends cheering them on. The audience loved these types of interactions. Occasionally the models stopped to show off the construction of their outfits. Audience members stood up to touch and examine the clothes, even chatting a little with the models. At one point, a front-row audience member shouted to a model: “I want to buy you!”

The 15 boutiques produced looks that they hand-picked for their costumers. Though the items were not stunningly original, different shops had distinct tastes and styles. Funky, youthful outfits from Way Off the Beaten Path contrasted with bohemian dresses from Designer Warehouse. If people preferred urban, sophisticated looks, they could always turn to Showoffs Boutique or Bounce.

The two local designers also delivered: fluorescent colors, mixed with black characterized “J.E.M.A.” by Me’Lisa Jema Matthews; “Inspired Designs” by Lisa Marie Butler managed to be both hardcore and feminine, combining fabrics like leather and lace.

“I didn’t know there was so much going on at Armory Square,” said Mecca Mozelle, high school student and part-time model.

During the intermission, people hung around outside the nearby restaurants and bars, drinking beer and cocktails, gathering with friends and meeting new people. The bars were more than pleased.

“This is definitely a better night than most regular Thursdays,” said Bela Brown, a staff member at The Blue Tusk Pub & Wine Bar, 165 Walton St.

The founder of the event also considered it a success.

“The fashion scene in Syracuse is definitely growing,” said Lisa Marie Butler, fashion designer and founder of the event. “I want to bring people and the downtown community together.”

Butler has high expectations for Syracuse Style.

"I’ve always envisioned this to be a fashion week in the future. We try to add one more thing every year,” she said.

This year, they added the “film and fashion” night three days earlier, showing Audrey Hepburn’s musical Funny Face in Archbold Theatre at Syracuse Stage.

About 400 people attended the fashion show, Butler estimated. After the show, several young models gave her their business cards, saying they would love to participate in the event next year.

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