Call it a sure sign of spring or maybe just a ray of hope that life is returning to its former rhythms. After moving last year’s RVA Fashion Week to October and holding it mostly online because of the pandemic, this year’s edition has returned to the traditional spring dates with a blend of virtual, outdoor and carefully crafted indoor events.
When planning began, executive producer Jimmy Budd found new motivation for Fashion Week given the past year.
“I felt like the best bridge to normalcy as far as fashion shows and events in general are concerned was to tie in our programming with restaurants and entertainment venues who continue to operate and practice safe COVID protocol,” he says.
Since both industries have taken significant hits, Budd thought it only made sense to support them however possible while keeping the fashion scene alive and relevant. “And who wouldn’t enjoy a dinner fashion show at the Quirk Hotel?”
The Arts District Dinner Fashion Show at Quirk Hotel benefits Feed More and features neighborhood businesses such as Ledbury, Verdalina, 707, It’s a Man’s World and the Spot. It will be one of RVA Fashion Week’s ticketed events, livestreamed and hosted by NBC-12’s Anthony Antoine and Heather Marie Speaks, with music provided by Taylor Shortridge.
It was during a discussion with Katie Ukrop and Deborah Boschen for the Quirk fashion show that Budd realized how strong their commitment to Feed More and its hunger relief mission was, especially in a pandemic. “After Feed More joined the Arts District Fashion Show, we decided to raise awareness for them the entire week of programming,” he says.
The week kicks off with GritCON: Resilience, a ticketed, two-day business conference livestreamed April 24 and 25 featuring seasoned business professionals and educators from all walks of life to celebrate the arts and entertainment communities. Conference topics include marketing, funding options, leadership, sales, and mergers and acquisitions, with speakers pulled from industries such as law, retail, marketing and creative endeavors. Budd says the goal is to unite, educate and entertain entrepreneurs, including veterans.
Taking advantage of the spring weather, the Look Good, Feel Good Rooftop Streetwear Fashion Show will happen atop the Hofheimer Building. This ticketed fashion show highlights up-and-coming streetwear designers and their brands from RJ Customs, Museum Rejects and Mama Jo’s. The event, hosted by Heather Marie Speaks and comedian Micah Bam-Bamm White, will take place rain or shine and be live-streamed.
Also to ensure RVA Fashion Week continues for years to come, there’s a workshop designed for high school students wanting to learn basic skills. Basics of Hand Sewing will be held at Gather in the arts district on May 2 and is intended to teach high-school students the basics of hand sewing as well as inspire them to pursue a career in fashion.
Common House at 303 W. Broad St. will hold two events. On April 29, it’s a Beauty of Fashion: Reclaiming Your Power panel discussion focusing on what it means to find your voice and power in the fashion and beauty industry. Come May 1, a designer fashion show featuring two boutiques – Very Ashley and Iconic 7 – is presenting curated looks and designs while seasoned couture designer Azi Blas presents his high-fashion designs. For the latter event, brunch will be served in the restaurant on the fourth floor from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
If networking is your goal, check out the Creative Suite, a curated experience happening inside and out of Les Crepes in Carytown. Participants will go through different areas to get their images taken by guest photographers with their unique style and signature looks. An RSVP is required. Events and tickets can be found rvafw.com.
And for those wondering why fashion even matters after a year of living in sweats at home with nothing to dress up for? Budd says that fashion is present all the time, good or bad. What happens during the down times is that fashion adapts.
“During the last year, we saw the birth of multicolored masks in all sorts of fabrics, numerous new styles of tops for Zoom sessions and loungewear that wasn’t just utilitarian, but also comfy,” he explains. “Now that the end of the pandemic is in view, fashion again will adapt and individuals will eagerly pick up where they left off last year, dressing up and wearing their best to feel their best.”
The 13th annual RVA Fashion Week is held April 24-May 2 at various locations. rvafw.com.