It finally happened for me.
I wanted to believe in Fashion Week of Rochester (FWR). Why? Because I believe in the Fashion Industry. I believe in reaching each client, in making fashion both fun as well as functional. I want everyone to experience that spark of excitement that happens when you see yourself from a different point of view. Fashion can be dress-ups for grown ups. But, it's more than that. It is empowering. When your image tells the world who you are, and you will be, you are no longer pretending. You are focused and you are directing your own path, rather than anyone else telling you who you should be. Fashion can be a barometer for the economy and the mood of society; it can be a source for inspiration.
I wanted to believe in Fashion Week Of Rochester because I believe in Fashion. I also like to celebrate small businesses that deserve our business. And, finally, I wanted to part take in the excitement of the fall season, while supporting a good cause.
But, I just couldn't take it anymore. From the very beginning I felt torn by the name "Fashion Week of Rochester" because it implies that it is some sort of parallel to the world re-knowned "Fashion Week." We live in New York State, just hours away from one of the world capitals of Fashion, NYC. It's a bit of an exaggeration to assume the name "Fashion Week of Rochester". I suggest a name change to the likes of "Boutique Fashion Week," "East Side Fashion Showcase," or "Small Business Fashion Week". ANY of the latter would be more accurate, as FWR is showcasing primarily readymade, retail available in stores NOW, rather then forecasting future trends and collections.
But, aside from the name, the experience of Saturday night's Fashion on Franklin show (at the Temple Building) was bewildering...and embarrassing. From the moment we arrived, things seemed less than spectacular. It was raining. We asked for directions to the restrooms, to freshen up. The venue had no restrooms and we were asked to step back outside into the rain to use a dolled up porta-potty. When we finally got to our seats, there was confusion all over the place due to the awful choice to set seating up in columns, rather than rows. ANYONE that bought tickets with a guest was seated in front of or behind their guest. By the time many had finally acquired drinks from the understaffed, over crowded bar, the seating confusion led to a massive amount of $55 ticket holders never actually finding or taking their seats before or after the show began.
ON each seat sat a "swag bag" full or Reed Eye Associates supplies...and nothing more. Really? THIS is a fashion show? There wasn't ANYTHING else even remotely related to fashion that could have gone into that bag... not even a complimentary drink ticket. Completely disorganized, disappointing, and bewildering.
No hate to the dj when I say that the runway music choices felt outdated, like some middle age idea of what is/was "cool". Thankfully, one could tell that any music before/after the pre-determined catwalk tracks was left to the dj's better taste.
The show began without announcement and ended without much closure. The last designer of the night, Artistix, channeled the energy of a Metalcore striptease with 90s throwback denim, which was like getting splashed with cold water after the lack-luster musical choices and bag lady chic of the previous designers. I was not ready for my eyes to be bruised by a portly old rocker, stripping down to his bare, tatto-ed glory. Please, no more....this was when it got really good.
Our venerable East District council woman, Elaine Spaull, had the unfortunate quote of the night, "And now we know that we can help homeless children AND look good while doing it!" Oh, Elaine. Was it worth it to please that drunken east side audience? Is that what gets you the votes?
I had purchased a double glass of wine so that I wouldn't have to go back to the god-awful bar. I left before I was through with the first half. Cool Venue. Neat idea to "bring fashion to the masses." Poorly executed.
When all is said an done, you want to make fashion accessible to people by helping them understand how to utilize it as a tool. The Saturday night showing of FWR just made fashion seem silly and pointless. It was certainly dress-up for grown ups, presented with less than excellent organization or taste. But in that way that makes you wonder, "What was the point of all this again?" As this event develops, will it become further and further away from what the Fashion Industry really is? Do I keep hoping that next year it will get better?
Should I cut my losses now or keep holding on?
It's that awkward moment when you know a break up is inevitable. Fashion Week of Rochester, we had some good times, but you're not representing the fashion industry well. It's over between us. Better luck next year.