Boston Fashion Week takes off.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Guest blogger: Bessie King
he models are coming! The models are coming! Okay, so maybe this is not a very patriotic cry, but this week for Boston it’s a fashionable one. Especially because not only are the models coming—so are the designers, hair and makeup professionals, and production agents. Boston Fashion Week, which began more than 10 years ago, is culminating in a consolidated effort housed at the a 250-seat tent at the Prudential Center called the Tent. I can bore you with personal theories on why this week and the Tent are incredibly significant for our Fashion Week—because, after all, this is our Boston and our talent on display—but I will spare my opinions.
Instead I’ll give you the opinions of the man who has made it all happen. Sneaking a few minutes during this past week’s preparation craze, Jay Calderin explained why tomorrow marks the beginning of a new fashion era in Beantown.
Calderin himself is as significant as the Tent. A New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent, he has lived in Boston for more than 20 years and for more than half that time has kept this annual expo of design talent alive and growing. Here is what Boston Fashion Week means to Mr. Boston Fashion himself:
This is such an important year for Boston Fashion Week because we’re getting a tent and really putting the shows together under one roof, taking this event one step further. What's the significance of that?
The Tent is a kind of new toy that everyone’s excited about, but the reason the Tent is here, and a lot of other great events are happening across the city, is that the community is really recognizing the value of fashion, and, in particular, local fashion. That is the exciting message behind all of this. We are really rallying support to make this event successful and professional. The mood of the city regarding fashion has changed dramatically over the years and now it's no longer this peripheral thing; it’s a part of our lifestyle in Boston. Fashion isn’t just about the clothes, it’s about makeup, about where you eat dinner, about the courses you take—it’s taking everything into consideration, and you craft it all to get this new perspective we have as a city.
Attitudes have definitely changed, but what about the designers? Our local designers really use this event to grow their businesses and reach more local fashion lovers. Are we competing now with other major Fashion Weeks?
Honestly, I don’t think it’s a matter of comparing our designers. What I find amazing about the Boston fashion designers is pool of talent. We have new talent every year because of these great educational fashion-design programs in our city, and we have more programs than any other city. That new talent every year keeps things fresh and we have the privilege of having diversity with these designers that create outfits for very different people. The pool of designers has been recognized for its strength and diversity in Boston.
What about the business side of it all? How long did it take you to get here and how many people had to get involved?
The people who have a lot of clout and strength in the city, like the wonderful partners who became involved, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel being one of them, to bring the Tent this year are a great example of the need to focus on local talent and showing it in the best way possible. But what most people don’t realize is that there’s this piece in the middle of the puzzle that really brings everything together. It’s the modeling agencies, the hair and makeup people, the production managers. A designer can have a great collection, but without good management they won’t have a good show. This year especially, all these special people have made an incredible difference. Many of them have volunteered and made themselves available to make this week happen in the spirit of having our city produce something this great. They should get big kudos for their work.
Clearly you are great at working as a team and acknowledging everyone’s hard work, but this is your baby. You started this 16 years ago, so what are your feelings as you see your vision of a full-blown Boston Fashion Week, in one place and with support from the city, become a reality?
I don’t like to think of this as if it’s reaching a certain point, because it continues to evolve every year. I think the main feeling I have is a certain peace of mind that the city makes this instrumental now, Boston Fashion Week has a life of its own now, and, not to sound cheesy, but I am also very, very happy. Now after all these years of doing this, Boston has evolved to a point where I live in a city that has a thriving fashion community, where I can go to a show and enjoy them myself right in my own back yard. I can go see shows and see incredible talent and really be part of it, not have to go to other cities to get my fix. In the beginning we were so busy with making it happen and now everything is moving so naturally and organically that we can actually enjoy it as well. When I first moved here I was definitely a New Yorker in Boston. Now Boston is really my home, I have grown and gotten incredible experiences here—write for magazines, do TV, written a couple of books, teach. It’s been Boston that’s supported me. Boston is my home and I feel I am very invested in the fact that this is my community. I don’t think about as me not being born and bred here. The city is beautiful and every day I do what I love to do.
Can you tell us which designers you are looking forward to seeing on the runway, or perhaps some words of wisdom for that talent that is preparing for Fashion Week in the future?
In general it’s the new faces. I love all the established designers. Seeing their stuff is always a treat, but the new faces are always sweet surprises. There are a lot of designers showing for the first time and you can see their evolution. You’re there, right at the beginning, and that’s what is great about Boston Fashion Week, it’s very accessible. For people who come to see who’s designing something locally it’s also great because they don’t have to go to the major stores to get a dress, a local designer is making something one of a kind they could love and get. As a designer, you have to love this industry and stick with it. It can’t be just about the bow at the end of the show. A lot of people buy into the celebrity of fashion, and for me that’s so the wrong reason to do anything in life. If you love the clothes, and you love making clothes for people to wear, it’s not a frivolous thing; you need to see the value of it. Fashion helps our self esteem, and it will become about the work and not about, “I’m a star.” That kind of substance—not just 15 minutes of fame—helps build something. A lot of fashion designers have proved that they may not be international labels but they have successful local careers. They do fashion and its not always big fame and glory but rather being able to do something everyday that you love, that’s the biggest reward you can ask for.
Passion dedication, and love for fashion are what has made this year’s Boston Fashion Week the best so far. Of course, still more is yet to come! See you at the shows!
Off the Rack
Alex and Ani boutique on Newbury Street hosts a night of fashion and beauty for Boston Fashion Week Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m., with hors d'oeuvres and homemade cotton candy provided by Lolita Cocina and models showing fall styles from Uncle Pete’s on Charles Street. The event is free, but an RSVP is required: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hit the "A Head Above Fashion" nightly after parties starting tomorrow (Sunday, September 25), free, with different designers and their work, including Marie Galvin hats, Ashley Vick Jewelry, and Crazy Hair by Safar, through Thursday, September 29, at District, GasLight, the Liberty Hotel, and other venues, and all free. These events are free, but an RSVP is required. For detailed information and to RSVP, click here.
Find great shopping bargains every day from MySecretBoston and Eversave