Brooklyn’s Fashion Circus
by Jeffrey Harmatz
Mar 05, 2009 | 1191 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Just like the artistic and musical culture that was born in its namesake neighborhood, the Williamsburg Fashion Weekend is a truly independent celebration of locally created fashion and performance.

At this season’s two-day event, hosted by Glasslands Gallery, seven Wiliamsburg designers were featured in the non-traditional fashion show that incorporated unusual presentations that were as unique and progressive as the designs they showcased.

Coming in at the heels of the larger, more corporately oriented Manhattan Fashion Week, the Williamsburg Fashion Weekend seeks to be an independent capstone to the event, although it is not affiliated with the larger show.

The Williamsburg Fashion Weekend is the creation of Arthur Arbit, who was looking for a way to display his own clothes. A tailor for the last 20 years, Arbit created the Williamsburg Fashion Weekend and teamed his own collection with those of fellow Williamsburg designers. He initially wanted to distance the Williamsburg shows from the Manhattan fashion week, but found that it garnered more attention when held closer to the Bryant Park shows.

Though it gives designers an opportunity to present their wares to buyers and members of the press, Williamsburg Fashion Weekend serves as something of a party in its own right. “Because the clothes are as unique as the character of the designers, we didn’t want typical shows,” said Arbit. “No catwalks style shows.”

Designers are encouraged to create innovative shows on Glasslands’ “runway,” which is really a stage. Taking this into consideration, the designers have used performance artists and musicians as models, and they give the people wearing their clothes a lot more to do than just look pretty.

This year, Friday’s show featured a model on stilts, and Saturday’s show, and the weekend as whole, weas capped off by a bevy of beautiful female drummers wearing designs from the Treehouse Brooklyn’s Sirius and Sodafine’s Erin Weckerle, one starting after the next until there were nearly a dozen on stage. Joined by a bassist, the grand finale to the musical fashion show was a trapeze artist performing aerial maneuvers while dangling from the venues ceiling. High fashion indeed!

“We want to make the shows non-traditional,” said Tom McCallister, a representative of the Wiliamsburg Fashion Weekend. “We don’t use a straight runway, and we encourage our designers to mix in music and performance in their shows. We want to put a different package on the fashion we’re delivering, and it meshes well with the Williamsburg art scene.”

On Saturday night, the fashions from designers King Gurvy, SDN, and Sirius and Weckerle ranged from almost conservative coats and suits, polka-dotted blouses, and fetishistic body suits and coats. The fashion show was completely sold out, with eager onlookers turned away at the door, and those that made it in were among New York City’s fashion elite.

Last weekend’s show was the fourth season of the Williamsburg Fashion Weekend, which holds two shows a year.

“We got a lot of great feedback,” said McCallister. “People are saying that it’s very refreshing.”

“I want these shows to be very unusual shows that typify the unusual work of Williamsburg designers,” said Arbit. Less than a week after the spring show, Arbit and McCallister are already planning their fall show and finding new designers they want to include. “In Brooklyn, the deeper you dig for new designers, the more doors you open and the more people you find.”
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