A Fashion Evolution

A Fashion Evolution

‘ve been talking with Kristi Moe ever since she started Madison Fashion Week back in 2008. The evolution of the events has been interesting to follow—it started with a weekend of runway shows and eventually ratcheted up to quarterly “Fashion Fridays” events and finally in May 2009, Moe hosted the first-ever Wisconsin Fashion Week (a slight name change from MFW, which Moe has said offers a more regional approach). With another Fashion Fridays event coming up on April 9, I wanted to catch up with Moe on her vision for the event this time around and what the future holds for Wisconsin Fashion Week (which this year will be held in October instead of May).

The April 9 event will be held in Arbor Gate’s sixth floor penthouse and is a collaboration with not only the Wisconsin Film Festival but with the Madison Area Music Awards as well.

Shayna: Why did you pick Arbor Gate as this event’s venue? What did you like about the space?Kristi Moe: Attending Fashion Fridays is about the experience. Date night. Girls night out. We want to give you a memory. Something to talk about at work on Monday or post on your Facebook. Hosting the series in non-traditional spaces creates a creative energy. We’re fortunate to partner with Arbor Gate, a $48 million development that houses Wisconsin Heart and Bonfyre American Grille. The space is ready to be leased at any time so we lucked out on it being available to use. I fell in love with the sheer expanse and sleek feel—it’s 20,000 square feet surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows and two balconies. There are panoramic views of downtown Madison and the Capitol. The event is timed so guests will be able to enjoy sunset views before the show. People will feel like they are attending a New York event! What do you want Fashion Fridays to accomplish? What would you like people to feel at the event or perhaps what will they take away with them after the event?Somehow fashion got replaced by shopping. We are not just consumers motivated by price. We want to be inspired and express our individuality. Fashion Fridays provides a platform to do that four times a year in a sustainable way supporting local designers, stylists and businesses.

Please name the designers participating and what their aesthetic is.Bare Tree Apparel: Specializes in eco-friendly and socially responsible individually hand screened apparel and unique limited edition accessories. Based in Madison.Caitlin Ann Designs: Emerging womenswear designer Caitlin Sidey’s Wisconsin Fashion Week 2009 collection included very wearable day and cocktail dresses accentuating the neck and shoulders. She is known for being resourceful—using leather from an Amish farm in Baraboo and even welding garment accent pieces herself. Based in Baraboo and Minneapolis. Gypsy Couture: Gypsy Couture by Claire Ann is a fashion forward bohemian label featuring handmade, reconstructed and custom clothing, jewelry and accessories. Based in Madison.Rebekah Jacobs Couture: For the past eight years, Rebekah Jacobs Couture has designed custom clothing for a private clientele, specializing in bridal, special occasion and cocktail dresses.Wisconsin Relic: Wisconsin Relic is a lifestyle brand providing premium quality apparel that celebrates the Midwest and its young pioneers.

What others are participating? That would include models, photographers, et cetera. Who are you excited to work with or who do you think shows promise in their field as the next big thing?This event begins to fuse fashion with the film and music industries in Wisconsin on a more concerted level. We have partnerships in place with both the Wisconsin Film Fest and the Madison Area Music Awards. While we are still selecting films for an exclusive preview, I can announce that MAMA nominee and past winner Mark Croft will be performing during the show. Mark is well known and loved in Madison for his acoustic contemporary pop rock sound and we are fortunate to have him! Emerging Milwaukee and former Madisonian singer/songwriter/pianist Julie Oehme will be performing during the reception. Her first set of recordings sold out so she has a lot of buzz around her.

Bella Salon is back! There’s nothing like the chaos of a runway show to separate the truly talented stylists. Bella stands apart every time, not only making the models look fabulous but they have fun doing it!

House photographer is Timothy Hughes who shot the runway show during the first ever Wisconsin Fashion Week. The photos were so beautiful I cried. Enough said! Michael Brooks also returns to do photo shoots for guests during the reception and Peter Castro will be snapping candids backstage and at the after party.

Models: Paige Butler, the winner of 2009 Wisconsin Fashion Week’s Fresh Faces competition is back. I’m also really excited about the number of new models, including Lauren Morasky.

What is the actual theme of this event? Is it a film/fashion collaboration? If so, what are you doing to tie together that theme? What will the itinerary/structure of the event be?The structure of Fashion Fridays has had a major shift for 2010. Now that the event is established and has a solid following, I feel we can do away with the event themes, allowing so much more creative expression for the designers to show a cohesive collection developing their own themes, point of view and voice. Fashion Fridays will now be a fairly neutral backdrop taking on a black/white color scheme for the marketing and set design.

A more abstract theme is being developed toward creative synergy among the fashion, film and music industries and trying to propel that locally. Our partnership with the film festival and the MAMAs are the start of that. Our industries inspire and reflect each other nationally … let’s see how to make that happen locally. Conversations are the starting point. So guests will hear three voices during Fashion Fridays through the talents showcased. Should be an interesting chat! As we progress, hopefully attendees will see how those voices become less of a solo performance and more of a trio.

You’re living in California now. What are you up to and why did you decide to move?Moving to L.A. came at the exact right time. I’d been missing my family a lot and I was a serious workaholic! L.A. opened up a whole new world that I knew was always there but now is accessible. From a fashion industry standpoint I can appreciate where Wisconsin is competitively … and we deserve some credit. I’m definitely proud of us. And I see the areas where we can improve. But our instincts are very, very good. From a personal standpoint, I feel refreshed having been with my family and focused on becoming a health nut (losing forty-five pounds!). My time out here will only help to make WFW and Fashion Fridays better, as well as to help make inroads for our talent to leapfrog into other markets.

What do you miss about Madison living on the West Coast?The seasons. I miss experiencing that first warm sunny day after a cold winter, breathing in that fresh air. Oh, and Nick Nice and the Cardinal. Hollywood has got nothing on you!

Since you started these events, what has been the reaction? Will there be another Wisconsin Fashion Week?]People have always been curious. Some have been more skeptical. Before, it would take a lot of time explaining the vision and getting people to buy into the idea. I pounded a lot of pavement. The past few months it’s noticeably changed. Potential participants are now finding me first or have heard of WFW when I call. Our fans seem to be a step ahead of me wanting to know about future events. Wisconsin Fashion Week will be held again this year but has been pushed back to the fall (October 2–9) when it aligns more with the busy shopping season. And since we do live in Wisconsin, it seems appropriate that our main event focuses on cold-weather apparel! The event has been expanded to two weekends so more people will be free to attend without work schedule conflicts.

Where are tickets available for the event?They’re available online and we also have our first-ever retail partner which I’m really thrilled about—general admission tickets can be purchased at the three Madison-area My Menu locations.

Fashion Fridays, April 9, 7 p.m. Arbor Gate, 2501 W. Beltline Hwy. wisconsinfashionweek.com