Monday, September 14, 2009

Project Minnesota: Minnesotans do New York Fashion Week

by Jahna Peloquin
Photos by Kelsy Osterman and Teri Anvid

l’étoile Fashion Editor, freelance writer and stylist Jahna Peloquin hit New York City this past weekend to style Project Runway contestant (and former Minneapolitan) Ra’mon-Lawrence Coleman’s New York Fashion Week show. We asked Jahna to give us a blow-by-blow experience in NYC from fittings to showtime, and give it to us she did!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I get off the plane at 11:30 a.m. and immediately head to the initial fittings for Ra’mon’s show, held at the sample maker’s studio. There, I meet up with Di Medlock (lead make-up artist for the show, co-founder of our stylist collective Eclecticoiffeur, and one of my BFFs) and Katherine Gerdes, Project Runway season three designer and one of Ra’mon’s closest confidants. To streamline the process of fittings, Ra’mon has asked one of the show’s models, Whitney Fransway, to come in to act as fit model. Whitney, a Minnesota native who’s now working out of L.A., was also featured in Ra’mon’s showing at l’étoile’s Project Runway premiere on August 20, and is in talks with Ra’mon to be the lone model in the designer’s Spring 2010 lookbook.

We get through as many of the samples that are currently complete, and put together about 15 of the show’s looks. From there, we head back to Ra’mon’s boyfriend’s Manhattan apartment, which hilariously surrounded a very Melrose Place-esque pool. There, we review the samples he created for the August 20 event, and see where they could fit into this show while chowing on hummus.

Eventually we head to Brooklyn so Ra’mon and Katy can get some sewing work done at the sewing-machine-packed studio of his friend Wade, while Di and I head back to the Williamsburg apartment she shares with Kelsy Osterman, fellow Eclecticoiffette and the Lead Hair Stylist for the show. The duo recently vacated Minneapolis for NYC, just in time for New York Fashion Week. We ended up at a nearby Mexican eatery to guzzle a pitcher of margaritas and eats fish tacos. Later that evening, Laura Fulk (a dear friend and Minneapolis fashion designer) joined us at the A.P.T. for dry cider, beer, and pedicures.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Today I make my first foray into subway riding since my last visit to NYC a few years ago. Thankfully, Kelsy and Di live just a few blocks away from the L, making my trip back into Manhattan a relatively quick one. Back at the sample makers’, I join my styling assistant Xavi Sostre (also of Minneapolis) and Laura Fulk, who just returned from an early morning of New York Fashion Week shows with local fashion writer Sara Glassman. They’ve already begun on fittings with the show’s 13 male models, most of which were from NYC modeling agency Adam. I realized I much preferred this sort of male model, all British-looking, tall and lean, with lovely coifs of hair and surprisingly lacking in the usual meathead cockiness I’ve become accustomed to. One of the models, Kennan, apparently just does modeling on the side; he is fresh off the off-Broadway touring production of the Footloose musical (he played Willard).

A few of the more notable female models in the show also came in for fittings, including the devastatingly gorgeous Vanessa Fitzgerald, Ra’mon’s model on Project Runway; and Shannone Holt, Kenley’s model from last season of Project Runway, whose excessively fierce walk almost knocked us out cold.

At 3 p.m., we all cabbed it over to the show location, a nightclub called Touch near Times Square for the production run-through. There, we met up with Cole Griswold, the choreographer and general point person for the show. I dropped off the two luggage cases worth of shoes I’d been toting around, and headed out onto Madison Avenue to gather up some belts, bowties, and other additional accessories for the show while the hair and make-up team tested the looks on some models.

By the time I got back to Williamsburg, it was time to get ready and head out to the Project Runway viewing party Ra’mon’s publicist had put together at a sports bar called Side Bar. I ran into Gretchen Williams, former event director and social denizen, who was just leaving the shindig. Even though we had a side room reserved for the party, it ended up being mostly drowned out by the sports bar crowd next door. Fortunately, it was a relatively uneventful episode, with neither Ra’mon or Christopher Straub (Minneapolis’ other contestant on the show) receiving much airtime. Logan Neitzel (who’s even more tall and gorgeous in person) and Carol Hannah Whitfield showed up for a little while, and I chatted with Logan about the weirdness of the Models of the Runway show. He asked me how many of us flew in from Minneapolis to work the show, and when I responded with “twelve or fifteen,” he seemed impressed. He was kind enough to invite me to his joint Fashion Week show with fellow PR contestant Epperson on Monday (unfortunately I was leaving town before then).

Friday, September 11, 2009

It’s the day of the show, and being the fashion-and-beauty girls we are, we got each other prettified. Catlin Weston, one of the hair stylists for the show and a stylist at Mezzanine, did an impromptu hair color for me, while Kelsy did some quick haircuts.

We arrived en masse at the show at 3 p.m., and the hair stylists got to work. Name check time: The Minneapolis stylists included hair stylists Catlin, Mark Dolan of Evolution Hair, Minjo Oehlke of The Beauty Room, and Liz Monsoor of Denny Kemp Salon, and freelance make-up artists Ashley Kilcher and Romeny Chan. Kelsy and Di respectively led up hair and make-up.

Robyne Robinson, who brought fellow Minneapolitan fashion plates Teri Anvid and Emma Berg along to help, had already dropped off her ROX line of jewelry off, and Xavi and I began to go through it to get ideas for styling. Ra’mon and Laura Fulk arrived, frantic no less due to a holdup with the sample makers, but eventually we ended up with more samples than we could fit on the show’s 35 models and the “Blue Lagoon”-inspired show was the vision of perfection, especially paired with ROX jewelry.

Before the show, Ra’mon had time to fit Shaquille O’Neil’s wife Shaunie, a petite Michelle Obama lookalike who fit into Ra’mon’s plum stretch-satin dress (from the 2008 “Rare Affections” collection) like a dream, with ROX jewelry to accent. I also had the chance to help dress Ra’mon’s higher-profile models, including America’s Next Top Model contestant Celia Ammerman, whose unique personal style has been captured on “The Sartorialist” and seemed super-cool and down to earth, as well as Sarah Bradford (Matt Damon’s sister) and soap star Heather Tom (currently on “The Bold And the Beautiful”). Also attending the event: Ra’mon’s mother, whom he graciously hugged upon taking his runway bow at the close of the show, writers from major "PR" blog Blogging Project Runway, Katy Gerdes, and “Project Runway” contestants Althea Harper, Qrystal Frazier, Christopher Straub, Logan and Carol Hannah. I had the chance to hang with Christopher post-show over champagne upstairs at Touch, and he was - of course - ultra-proud of Ra'mon, with whom he shares a tattoo they got together after the taping of Project Runway.

As for Ra’mon’s collection, it was a color-infused, wearable collection featuring interesting details and a lot of basics-with-a-twist, with a few bold runway pieces to add some signature Ra’mon avant-garde drama. To my surprise, I loved his menswear most of all; the mix of Thom Browne narrow cuts and bright tie-dye colors done up in short-sleeved seamed shirts and skinny denim jodhpurs made me almost with I was a boy.

After navigating the subway system in a very stylish pack of 12 (Minneapolis represent!), we ended up at the after party at the uber-swanky club Citrine. We were surrounded by fab people, including pretty much all of the male models and Minneapolis model Tearra, who also was in the show and has been Ra’mon’s favorite since booking her for his 2008 “Eluded Love” show. Also spotted: Former Minneapolis painter Ben Olson, and former Metro Magazine fashion editor Stephanie Davila, now an editor at InStyle Magazine. The danceathon concluded with a couple model boys giving me their phone numbers, asking me to call the next time I’m in town. With this experience under my belt and the growing number of Minneapolis ex-patriots living in NYC, I’m sure I will be again soon.

Keep up to date on local fashion news and Project Runway gossip at Jahna's blog Le Petit Connaisseur de la Mode

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