By the runway
Local designers and models are gearing up for the Reno Fashion Show
As people are gearing up for Artown, preparations for the Reno Fashion Show are also in full swing.
According to organizers, the show is bigger than ever this year with 20 local designers sending models down the runway to showcase their creativity.
“We have children, women, men and even people over the age of 50 taking part in the show,” Brian Aranda, the executive producer of the fashion show, said.
He hopes attendance will exceed last year’s turnout of 1,200 people.Behind the scenes
When preparations for the show began with a casting call in May, designers, make-up artists and producers gathered to see more than 400 prospective models line up for auditions.
“We want models who are proud to be part of the show,” Aranda said to the hopefuls who’d come to try out.
The show is being choreographed by Starr Berumen, 17, who has been modeling since age 13. It will be Berumen’s fifth time modeling in the show and her second time as a choreographer.
“We are trying to switch it up a little bit from last year,” she said. “We are making the runway a little bit longer and also get them to make turns in the middle.”
The runway will be 90 feet long this year, laid out like most any fashion week, with theater-style seating for 1,200 people.
“We have done the show in the Grand Sierra’s Grand Theatre before, but we prefer a traditional runway, as it is large and not so intimate,” Aranda said. “You can be in the high nosebleed seats and not be able to see the fashion at all.”
This year, the sets are to be designed by Carol Lee Kim and her daughter Noelle. The show will also feature an opening act by Karen Burns Productions called “Decades of Fashion,” during which Karen Burns will perform a show number to highlight fashion through the ages.
One big difference for the 2017 show will be the lighting. Last year, after taking a liking to the chandeliers in the Grand Theatre, all the lights were left on, defying the norm of using spotlights.
The theater has since been remodeled, so the show is going back to basics. The organizers plan on turning all the lights down and highlighting just the runway, putting more focus on the models and the vogue.
The designers will have greater responsibilities than in years past. Managing 200 models—the number who were selected from the auditions—would be difficult, so the designers will have to coordinate with the models directly. Of course, there are also more designers now.
“This year, the most difficult part would probably be the amount of designers,” Aranda said.
That’s why next year the producers of the show hope to expand it into a fashion week, which would allow for more designers, clothes and time to showcase the talent in the city.
“The designers are only able to showcase 10 styles, and it gives you a great preview of what the designers can offer—but, for designers that want to show quantity, they could possibly get that in a fashion week type of event,” Aranda said.Model view
After going through auditions on May 20, the 200 chosen models made their way to the mezzanine level at the Grand Sierra Hotel for the rehearsals.
The models ranged in age from 6 to 60. Each designer was allocated just over an hour to rehearse a routine with the help of choreographer Berumen. Hyper kids, enthusiastic parents and excited models put their best feet forward.
Ayris Kambon, a model for Mystique Boutique, auditioned for the show last year but was unable to participate because of other commitments.
“I’ve been practicing a lot—walking down the hallway, practicing my stances and poses,” Kambon said. “Even if you have done it for years and years, it does take a while to get comfortable walking down the stage in front of so many people.”
As with many of the models in the show, Kambon has dreams of making it big in the modeling world. It’s something she’s wanted since she was a little girl.
“I remember my sister dressing me up in her clothes, and I would always be the one to pose when the camera hit me,” she said. “I was just so full of it and just loved it so much.”
There are also some returning veteran models from previous years’ shows. One such alum is Zakotah Sevon, who is returning to walk for designer VonRoe.
“[It is] important to know what you are wearing and creating a persona with it,” Sevon said. “You can’t do the same walk for every outfit, as it is created for this special occasion.”
Another model for VonRoe, Krista Hyatt, who has been part of the show for three years, has an interesting story to tell. She suffers from spinal meningitis, which has caused her to be completely deaf in one ear and 80 percent deaf in the other.
“I kind of walk in my own rhythm since I can’t really hear the music really well,” Hyatt said. “I feel the vibrations, which helps.”
Accompanied by her parents, who were proud and enthusiastic about their daughter’s success, it was impossible to spot any difference between her and the other models.
“I want to meet Tyra Banks and learn from her,” she said. “I want her to teach me her ways of modeling. She’s a huge inspiration.”Smaller matters
Another big change for the show this year is the inclusion of children's clothing for the first time ever. When Sippee's children's boutique and Robin Monteith Design signed up for the show as designers, the producers of the show were excited to involve children.
“It is a lot easier than we expected,” Aranda said. “They are very attentive, paying attention and focused. The opportunity we have created here has a lot of kids excited.”
While the rehearsals were in full swing, Robin Monteith was sketching, selecting and deciding the outfits and models for her collection.
Monteith worked in the garment industry and designed clothes in Los Angeles. After moving to Reno with her husband, she decided to get back to her designing roots.
“The process for me in terms of designing is first, look for inspiration,” Monteith said. “For me, I have really been taken by the color indigo of late, and I have also been enjoying the amazing outdoor scenery we’ve had. … The snow this winter and the spring being so vibrant have been my inspiration right now.”
Monteith likes kids to look like kids, so her line consists of a lot of natural fabrics, like cotton. She describes her line as “comfortable” and something her own kids could’ve played in when they were smaller.
“[The models] are amazing,” she said. “Today was the first time I got to meet them, and they are an awesome group of kids. I am super stoked that each of the garments I designed for them, suits them. … It’s such a rush when the kids are in the clothes, and you see people’s reactions. Kids always get a great reaction because they are just so dang cute.”