Syracuse Fashion Week Gala brings a lavish evening for locals

An interactive runway experience dazzled the crowd at the Syracuse Fashion Week Gala.

Pushing theatrics to the brink, the Syracuse Fashion Week Gala at The Landmark Theatre on Friday night was a cross-section of styles both on and off the runway.

Syracuse Fashion Week founder and theater maven Lisa Marie Butler gave designers and boutiques the freedom to make their time on the runway an interactive performance for the audience.

“I try to do different themes for every night…" Butler said. "Tonight is kind of eclectic because its in downtown Syracuse and we want to pull a lot of local designers and vendors."

Photo: Alexandra Rojas
Boom Babies showcases elegant gowns during the Syracuse Fashion Week Gala.

The show featured a wide variety of styles that local designers offer, from active wear, gowns, menswear and children’s clothes.

The designers and boutiques featured were: Kambara and Dresscode202 from the Syracuse Fashion Gallery, Showoffs, The Changing Room, Projex214, Indie Kids, Modern Pop Culture, Boom Babies, maeflowers vintage, Mr. Shop, Ish Guitars, Midnight Sun, Inspired Designs, Cazenovia College student designers, and Lululemon.

Before the show, guests sipped their drinks and perused the long stretch of local vendors. Friends and families stopped and posed before the “Syracuse Fashion Week” banner. Guests at the gala donned everything from formal floor-length gowns to denim jeans with heels.

Nicole Deyulio, who received a "Best Dressed" award, said her godmother gave her tickets to the gala as a birthday gift. As a fashion design student at Cazenovia College, who will be showing in Saturday’s show, Deyulio said she sees great importance in supporting local fashion designers.

“Just because we’re [in] Syracuse and a little bit smaller, we can still do fashion week things,” Deyulio said.

Music echoed through the lobby from upstairs, which signaled to guests that the show was about to start. Some guests took their seats alongside the runway while others sat at VIP tables scattered across the room.  

Following a moment of silence for Prince’s passing, the models hit the runway. With Prince being a leader in unconventional style, it was fitting that the atypical fashion show was filled with his music.

Models of all shapes, sizes and ages sauntered down the catwalk, receiving high-fives and cheers from those sitting in the audience. For this show, the biggest challenge was getting over 80 models into hair and makeup, Butler said. Even with the chaos backstage, they all kept their composure and entertained the crowd.

For Ish Guitars, each model walked down the runway sporting an instrument while another rocker gave a lengthy guitar solo with other models dancing around him. The crowd gasped as the Lululemon models performed walking handstands and balanced in the air while doing acroyoga. Maeflowers Vintage delivered Coachella vibes with their flowing, hippie silhouettes. The models also threw sunflowers into the audience.

Model Michael John Heagerty said he has participated in Syracuse Fashion Week since its founding and has been impressed at its transformation.

“I’m active in the community so it’s fun to be onstage and be involved,” Heagerty said, who also gives Syracuse-area tours through NOExcuses. “It used to only be a singular event on Walton Street downtown at Armory Square under a tent…Now it’s four or five days of special events. ”  

A new designer to the Syracuse area, Patrise Carpenter said she felt much more at ease in her second year at Syracuse Fashion Week. “I was probably more nervous [about] whether or not I’d be accepted [last year],” Carpenter said, who showed some of her pieces in 2015 and didn’t yet have a formal business.

Butler said she invited Carpenter to participate this year after she founded her fashion incubator space, The Syracuse Fashion Gallery, in February 2016. Carpenter of Dresscode202 and Kamille Allen of Kambara, decided to feature sleek, modern looks paired with metal jewelry for the evening.

“This year since we’ve become a business in Syracuse [and] in Armory Square we’ve felt part [of the area],” Carpenter said.

For everyone involved, a supportive community has been vital for it to thrive.

“Thanks to an active group of stylists, aestheticians and fashionistas locally under the reign of Lisa Butler [the event has grown],” Heagerty said. “Lisa has basically created this fashion world that we all live in.”

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