Kansas City Fashion Week has certainly come a long way from its first year in 2012, when it was held in the ballroom at Harrah’s North Kansas City Casino.
It’s a bigger event now — four nights of shows instead of three; more designers and more models included. This year’s spring event is scheduled for March 24-30. All of the runway shows are at The Grand Hall at Power & Light, a luxury event venue downtown.
According to Kansas City Fashion Week president Teisha Barber, everyone affiliated with the event is working to change the perception of the Midwest within the larger fashion world.
Whether it’s with fashion or any other trend, Kansas City holds a stereotype: It takes longer for trends from big cities like New York or Los Angeles to reach us.
As Kansas City Fashion Week continues to grow — and draws more designers from other cities — those in charge hope they can change that point of view.
“This is Kansas City – people don’t have to think of us as some small farm town,” Barber says. “We have amazing designers, we have amazing clothing here. We have designers who want to come to Kansas City Fashion Week from Nashville, from New York... It’s a good place to have your brand.”
About half the designers for the spring iteration of Kansas City Fashion Week are local; the other half are from places such as California, Nashville and Denver.
Two of the biggest names coming from outside Kansas City have plenty of star power. Andrew Clancey, of Nashville, will present work during this season’s show. His designs have been worn by celebrities such as Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Jane Fonda.
Barber describes Clancey’s work as “very loud,” with lots of sequins. In other words: Perfect for a pop star on stage.
Then there’s Los Angeles-based designer Joshua Christensen of “Project Runway” fame, who is making his return to Kansas City Fashion Week.
“He’s kind of a fan favorite for people who have come before,” Barber says.
But Kansas City Fashion Week wouldn’t be what it is without its local flair.
Nataliya Meyer is a big local name. Her Country Club Plaza boutique, Lucia’s Sarto, offers customized design and tailoring. Meyer’s latest designs will make appearances on the runway during Kansas City Fashion Week. Rachel Byerly, a model-singer, is pictured above wearing one of Meyer’s creations at Electric Iron Tattoo.
Other participating local designers include Christian Michael, who specializes in menswear, and Atinuke Adeleke, who incorporates a “Nigerian traditional aesthetic” into her jewelry.
As far as the actual clothing goes, a couple trends to watch for will include pleating — lots and lots of pleating — in anything from skirts to pants. Barber says that this year has also seen an uptick in more gender-neutral looks.
“You can kind of switch it up —something that may typically be seen as something a woman would wear, a guy can wear,” she says. “We have a lot of menswear designers who are fitting women so it’s kind of a more interchangeable look.”
In all, models will display the work of about two dozen designers. The organizers of Kansas City Fashion Week steer away from nightly themes so that people can see as much as possible in a single show.
“There are other shows around in the region that do specific themes each night,” Barber says. “But we’ve found that people are like, ‘I can’t afford to go to all three, so I only went to one, and I only saw one type of clothing, and that’s not something I would really even wear.’”
“Here, whatever night you come, you’ll get to see a little bit of everything.”
That variety has been a cornerstone of Kansas City Fashion Week since its inception, and will continue to be as the brand evolves into something bigger.
“I think the hardest thing now is, ‘Is the venue big enough?’” Barber says. “With how much we’ve grown in the last seven years, I only see us growing even more.”