POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 7, 2011:
Strut Your Stuff
The culture of artistic style opens with Tulsa's own fashion week
Tulsa is not exactly known for being the mecca of fashion. Given, we certainly have a style that is unique and all our own; such originality is to be expected when we're as insulated as we are and somewhat at the mercy of incredibly distant outside influences. We're most certainly not the trailblazers of the industry -- the attire of the average shopper at Woodland Hills Mall is a testament to that.
And while we may hear phrases like 'The Tulsa Sound' thrown around and appropriately celebrated, no one is out preaching the merits of the Tulsa Look. That's not to say T-Town hasn't improved as of late.
While it once took years for the latest styles to make it to Middle America, thanks to the internet, Midwest shoppers are now privy to all the current trends, practically instantaneously. Should there be any doubt, stop reading right now and check your Twitter. #Fashion. Hell, the beloved UrbanOutfitters.com single-handedly ensures that any Tulsan can pass for a Brooklyn-ite in a matter of a few mouse clicks.
To say that Tulsa is devoid of a distinct style is not to say that Tulsa is devoid of style, mind you. Let's not confuse the two.
But now for the first time ever, Tulsans now have the opportunity to simultaneously celebrate fashion right along with the rest of the world by participating in Fashion's Night Out.
The idea is to showcase the sheath dress.
Presumably, no one would deny that. Oh sure, there's the celebratory aspect. Anyone who has chosen a career like fashion, as with most careers, must do so out of love for it and that is certainly worth celebrating.
That said, it is not a non-profit industry.
Not even Tom's Shoes.
An artist has got to make a living. Designers have electric bills to pay and even models have to eat...every so often. And as public decency laws mandate, people need clothing -- we will always need clothing.
Indeed, I am willing to hang my hat on my belief that there is nothing superfluous about fashion. The multi-billion dollar industry employs over 4 million people. And not all of them are working in sweat-shops, either. From designers to manufacturers to distributors to buyers to stylists to marketers, the fashion industry is a symbiotic machine with nuts and bolts in all shapes and sizes. And that's just the people.
I'd also like to argue that it is art in one of its higher forms -- functional art. As much as any artifice, on a macro-level, it is indicative of our times. On a micro-level, it's indicative of one's self. After all, without our clothing, we are left stripped bare. For those very reasons alone, I think fashion deserves a party.
Three short years after its original inception in Manhattan, this global event found its way to Tulsa. On Sept. 8 from 5-9pm, boutiques, designers and shoppers the world over will be celebrating the kick-off of New York Fashion Week.
Unlike a knock-off designer handbag purchased at the local flea market, there is no pretending here. Fashion's Night Out gives Tulsa an opportunity to be a part of something big. It is also a fantastic opportunity for some of the local creative community to work together for their impassioned cause of bringing a bit of glamour to Tulsa.
The party begins at Little Black Dress and other Center1 boutiques like Black Optical, Exhibit and Edit. Right across the way, elegant Tulsa mainstay Aberson's will feature informal modeling and trunk showings to a jazzy soundtrack, punctuated by hors d'oeuvres from local restaurants like Doc's, all topped off with cocktails. The imbibing and shopping most certainly won't be in vain. A portion of the proceeds from Center1 merchants will benefit the United Way.
From Brookside (or vice versa if you prefer), you can hop a trolley and be whisked on over to Utica Square.
Shannon Schroeder, an independent stylist who works with Miss Jackson's to communicate their hipper, more high fashion direction, excitedly told me about some of the things the Square has lined up.
Schroeder and friend, Stacy Suvino, formerly of Bergdorf Goodman's in Manhattan, alongside Rachel Kern and Jon Schroeder, have been collaborating for months to put together not only an evening of shopping, but an all-out party, complete with live music courtesy of The Hero Factor.
For runway aficionados, aspiring or otherwise, there's a fashion show featuring an appearance by Project Runway contestant and designer Shirin Askari.
Young designers and students get a chance to test their chops in a Project Runway inspired contest where contestants must create wearable pieces from Miss Jackson's packaging. Miss Jackson's intends to show that fashion outright rocks.
Just as much as the clothing, this evening is about the creative talent that operates behind the scenes to make an event like this possible.
True to Tulsa style, Fashion's Night Out is a collective creative collaboration. The evening will surely prove to be a wonderfully festive time to eat, drink and be fabulous, all the while supporting your local merchants and creative talent. Now as much as ever, they need our support. All art must have an audience, not to mention funding. Fashion's Night Out offers the opportunity to think global, act local. And maybe look good while doing so.
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