Jeneé Osterheldt

KC's West 18th Street Fashion show feels an island breeze

Elodie Auvray is one of the hand-picked designers showing a collection at the West 18th Street Fashion Show on Saturday.
Elodie Auvray is one of the hand-picked designers showing a collection at the West 18th Street Fashion Show on Saturday.

Fashion was never her dream. As an island girl in St. Martin, she grew up an adventurous tomboy, no stranger to scars and scabs.

Now, Elodie Auvray is into swimsuits and maxi dresses. She designs them herself. This isn’t your average pool wear. Think island luxury. On Saturday, she will show her LOD by Elodie Auvray collection at the 15th Annual West 18th Street Fashion Show.

This year’s theme, “Invitational Summer,” is special. There was no application process. The designers were hand-picked, and Elodie, 22, is among Kansas City’s fashion elite who will have their designs showcased on the runway.

She started designing just four years ago. Her brother, former Sporting KC midfielder Stephane Auvray, invited her to move to the Midwest when he started playing soccer here. She figured she would give it a try. When he made a joke about her enrolling in school and studying fashion, she decided to try that, too.

“I was interested in interior design,” Elodie says. “But as I studied fashion at Johnson County Community College, I realized I like it and I am passionate about it.”

She’s also a natural. She made her debut in the West 18th Street Fashion Show two years ago. Her color choices are rich and vibrant, and her fits are perfection. She sews by hand and machine to achieve the beachy, posh looks.

“Watching the progress of Elodie Auvary is really wonderful,” says Peregrine Honig, the fashion show’s creative director. “She is incredibly skilled with her material, and her concepts are accessible and sophisticated. She chooses great models, and her garments are as elegant as they are wearable.”

Elodie aims to bring Caribbean style to the forefront, to pay homage to her roots.

“I’m half French and half Caribbean. My mom is black, my dad is white. French people are more conservative, more classic. They dress up. Caribbean people barely dress. They wear resort; they live resort. It’s colorful, flashy and baring. I want to bring the two worlds together.”

Her collection, she says, is ethnic, fun, sexy and elegant. Her designs have a Rasta influence. Look through her sketchbook and it starts with images of Damian Marley, Lauryn Hill, Haile Selassie I. Her fabrics — silks and mesh — are from Trinidad, where she attended Carnival, when women turn their swimwear into extravagant costumes. The island extravaganza, like her designs, is about owning your femininity.

“Caribbean women are crazy about their body. They concentrate what they love about their body and accentuate that, and I like my clothes to embrace the body.”

What she likes about the West 18th Street Fashion Show are the endless creative possibilities.

“You can be the extreme of yourself,” she says. “You are encouraged to push yourself and to not be scared of who you are. There are no limits. I like that.”

To reach Jeneé Osterheldt, call 816-234-4380 or send email to josterheldt@kcstar.com. “Like” her page on Facebook and never miss a column. On Twitter @jeneeinkc.

West 18th Street Fashion Show

▪ 6:30 p.m. Friday: The night before the big show, seamstresses from the historic Garment District will share their stories with Jennifer Lapka Pfeifer, the fashion show’s co-executive producer. At the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St. RSVP at kclibrary.org.

▪ 8 p.m. Saturday: The main event, Invitational Summer, takes over West 18th Street between Baltimore and Wynadotte. For more information, visit west18thstreetfashionshow.com.

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