“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
I finished reading The Alchemist just days before boarding a plane to Los Angeles. It couldn’t have come at a better time. The book spoke to me and reminded me that “when you want something, the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” As long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to help people see how beautiful they truly are. I do that work through the medium of fashion. I also whole heartedly believe everything happens for a reason. Here is my story of Fashion Week Los Angeles.
3:50am Friday, October 14 – my alarm goes off. I roll over and think to myself, “why, in the hell did I pick such and early flight?!?” Then I remind myself, “oh yeah, because you were working on a budget.” I jump in the shower and quickly head outside where my aunt is waiting to take me to the airport. As she drops me off at the departing gate, she gives me a big hug and wishes me luck.
4:56am Friday, October 14 – settle into the gate. I take a deep breath, say a prayer, set my intention for this trip, and give some love. I am overcome by so many varying emotions that I almost feel numb–actually, on a higher plain. I board my flight with many messages of love and support.
“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.” Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
12:05pm Friday, October 14 – arrive at the hotel. A presidential candidate decided to go dancing with audience members on Ellen and caused a delay flying into Los Angeles from my connection in Oakland. Within the next hour, Roby, my dear friend and right hand for the weekend, arrives.
4:30pm Friday, October 14 – After settling in and cleaning up, we decide to get our bearings in Downtown LA and grab a bite to eat. We settled at The Blue Cow Kitchen & Bar. Over our deliciously refreshing The Blue Cow Beerg, we caught up and Roby did a pulse check. He wanted to know how close to being ready I was. My answer was a resounding…”40%”. The shells of my 10 looks were ready. They just needed to be fit to the models. His next question was to find out how far I wanted to by Saturday evening. I felt comfortable at 70% since the model fittings weren’t happening until Sunday. And I should have mentioned, I brought my sewing machine with me. After a few cocktails, delicious food and great conversation. We headed back and called it an evening (it was a long week).
7:15am Saturday, October 15 – coffee. Coffee. Coffee, please! Saturday = garment district. I needed to get fabric for a couple of orders and sewing notions to finish a few FWLA looks. We decide experience downtown by walking (I love walkable cities). Roby finds a corner creperie. We eat breakfast and hit the streets again.
Just after noon Saturday, October 15 – sidetracked at all there was to see, we finally make it down to the fabric district, and I find my favorite wholesellers. I found some fab black faux leather and stocked up on more denim. I also found beautiful 2-way stretch floral taffeta. However, the stretch was in the wrong direction. I tried to haggle for a lower price, but it was out of my budget this time. Roby didn’t know he was going to be my translator…I really need to start watching Novelas again. After spending a lot of time in the notions shop, I got all that I needed. Our next stop, the bank for my final payment for the show. In order to get there, we walked through the floral district—heavenly scents filled the air with so many beautiful arrangements. I, of course, was partial to the sunflower arrangements. We next walked through produce markets. I’ve never seen so many fresh fruits. The air was filled with the sweet scents. Then we walked through the warehouse district. I wanted to hold my nose and won’t repeat those smells. After the bank, we decided to head back to the hotel. I had my designer dinner that evening and wanted to rest a bit before. We started back in a round-about way until we realized we were walking through “skid row”. Quick turn left and back on our original path.
5:43pm Saturday, October 15 – because I hadn’t walked enough, I decided to walk a few blocks to dinner. FWLA hosted the designers at La Petit Paris. It was great to meet designers from all over. Some of my cohort came from the likes of Paris, France, NYC, Las Vegas, Phoenix and of course LA. I had the opportunity to meet the back of the house stylist, Danielle, whom I had been talking to over the past week in order to prepare for FWLA. I met the head of operations and talked about showrooms and the differences between LA and other markets. It was an informative, enjoyable evening for this introvert with great food and too much wine. Roby and his friend, Rebecca joined me at 8pm. We left shortly thereafter, and decided to walk back.
It was a beautiful night in LA. Balmy but not cold, so we decided the best way to end the evening would be to see the views from a rooftop. We continued on to the Westin Bonaventure, only to get there to find a huge convention had descended on the hotel. We walked Rebecca back to her car. She gave Roby and me a ride to the hotel. More than 25,000 steps were taken that day…and my whole body felt it.
Sometime dark 30am Sunday, October 16 – I woke with the thought that I needed to sew. Then I realized I couldn’t do anything and made myself go back to sleep.
“Don’t give in to your fears. If you do, you won’t be able to talk to your heart.” Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
8:06am Sunday, October 16 – morning coffee arrived and I dragged myself out of bed. I had three hours before the model fittings. I needed to sew one complete slip dress and had to add the skirt to the Caprice Warrior as well as add a few embellishments. 11:15am came around and we headed downstairs to catch a ride to The Bloc, the venue for FWLA. We arrived and I looked for Danielle, FWLA Stylist, to find out where I could set up my line. I grabbed hangers and set up shop. We waited for the models.
1:00pm Sunday, October 16 – Roby and I started fitting the models to the looks. It was pretty easy to pair the right looks to the women we worked with. As I was posting photos, I got a number of text messages asking me about the models. It’s funny. I had read earlier in the day an Instagram post about Gigi Hadid and the advice her mom gave her. Her mom’s guidance: “When you start working, you better be the most hardworking, nicest, person in the room because if you’re not, there’s always going to be someone prettier, nicer and more hard-working.” In many ways, this is true in all professions. The women we worked with were not only beautiful, but graceful and so eager to walk in the show–total professionals, like all the women and men I’ve had the privilege to work with thus far. We signed up 8 models for 10 looks: Dana, Natalia, Alexia, Karis, Alice, Talise, Emily and Kylie. I pinned the outfits that needed adjustments. Once we finished we headed back to the hotel. For the rest of the afternoon, I went back and forth between sitting at the desk and sewing and sitting in my mending corner next to the floor to ceiling windows while working on alterations and enjoying the views of downtown.
4:39pm Sunday, October 16 – I received a text from my aunt. It simply stated, “Beautiful Mystical weekend! Hope it continues for you for many years to come!!” Curious, I asked, “Why do you say that?” She responded, “Because I heard your mom and grandpa gave you a hug and a blessing. :-)” I smiled and went back to work. I worked until about 8pm and then suggested that we go down stairs for a change of venue. We talked, noshed and celebrated with a glass of wine. Then, we called it a night.
“People are capable, at any time in their lives of doing what they dream of.” Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
7:30am Monday, October 17 – I woke excited for the day. I said a prayer, set my intention and popped out of bed. Grabbing my phone to put on some sewing beats, I noticed a number of text messages from loved ones—that empowered me even more and I got to work. The slip dress ended up being too small. I didn’t have any excess material to recreate it. However, I dreamt of the perfect 10th look. I sketched the pattern and cut out the material. I also had to totally redo the Ariel Skirt and make a top for it. I have to tell you, sheer material is a b—– or pain to take the seam out of and re-sew. Not to mention blood from stabbing yourself over and over with the seam ripper doesn’t hide well on white. HA!
12:23pm Monday, October 17 – Jamie arrives at the hotel. If you don’t know Jamie, she is my fashionable friend and blogger behind More Than Turquoise. I finish the Ariel skirt and top. Pack everything in my suitcases. We head downstairs for a cab and to the beautiful chaos that is Fashion Week.
1:15pm Monday, October 17 – I check in with Danielle for our space and hang the garments. Roby and I see Karis, Dana, Alexia, and Kylie sitting in the waiting area. I ask him to start fitting the models with the new adjustments. He also said he will be on the lookout for the others and two new models for the outfits that weren’t tried on the day before. However, I have to first finish sewing the last one. I grab my rolling suitcase filled with the material and my machine and look for a space so I can cop a squat and get to work. If you’ve never been to the Bloc, it’s a multi-use space with the Sheraton anchoring it on one side and Macy’s on another. I found a sitting room with an outlet in the Macy’s women’s bathroom. I set up a space and started sewing. While in there, I was questioned a number of times by patrons wanting to know if I was really sewing in the bathroom. I smiled and said, “yes”. I finished and went down stairs. While I was sewing, Roby was fitting the models and grabbed two new ones. He also found a sexy revamping of the Caprice Warrior (or as he said, “Holy, Jennifer Lopez”).
As I was hanging the new look on the rack, Marija, stopped by and asked if I needed a model. Prayers answered. This is the first time anyone had tried it on and I used the rough measurements of 32 x 25 x 34. It fit like a glove and she was perfect for this summertime look. We got our two missing models! Then I realized I didn’t see Emily, Alice or Natalia. I had connected with Alice on Instagram so I sent her a DM asking if she was on her way. A few minutes later, I found out she was not able to participate in the show after all. I assumed the same for the other two. Once again we started targeting the new batch of models, when Chloe came up and asked if I needed models. YES, I had my model for the Lisa maxi-dress. Then Emily was brought back. She didn’t think she was going to model but then got pulled back from the crowd. I had my Ariel skirt model. One more to go.
4:00pm Monday, October 17 – Hopeless + Cause Atelier was fourth on the line up. The group of 20 women models were all dressed for the first two shows, so Roby and I could only envisage who would be the last model to wear the Caprice Skater Dress. It was beautiful chaos! The show was supposed to start at 4:00pm. However, nothing ever starts on time….it’s always fashionably late. Designers were making last minute changes, trying to secure models, accessories and shoes. The hair and makeup teams were making adjustments and the 7:00pm cohort of designers were trying to get in to set up their stations. Roby made the decision to stay in the back of the house with me because he knew I would need an extra pair of hands to fit the models, which meant I wouldn’t be able to Periscope the show. However, having him with me was much more important. Jamie took her seat in the audience. I was grateful that the team from The LA Fashion Magazine was attending the event as well as my dear friends, Laura and Debra, who took the afternoon off for fashion in LA. One of the other designers, who was showing on Tuesday, asked me how I could be so calm within the chaos. I told her, my attitude sets the stage for my show. I’m rolling with the punches and going to enjoy every moment of it. At that moment, Roby gives me a gift that he brought back from Austria. A beautiful card with sunflowers and a dainty crystal bow necklace—LA VITA E UN DONO—my personal mantra that means “life is a gift”. I decide it’s important that this bow walks in the show and I pair it with the Ariel look.
6:00pm Monday, October 17th – Danielle cues me to be ready. However most of my models are in the current show, so I grab Roby and 6 volunteers. I give everyone one outfit, shoes and accessories. I tell them their assigned model’s name and ask them to help dress and undress the model. There is no time to do it from the back of the house so we will be changing in the corridor leading up to the runway. I grab another model for the Caprice Skater Dress and sadly, I don’t get her name. She is very ethereal and like an angel, jumps in to participate in the show.
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist.
Within a flurry of clothing and flesh, the models are transformed into Hopeless + Cause Atelier spring/summer 2017 looks and I line them up based on the changes I had to make to the roster. Then we wait, which seems like forever. I know it’s not. I’m wondering if anyone from home is watching on my website or if they gave up because of the delay.
Then there’s the cue for Leah to hit the runway. Model after model struts her stuff and we’re behind the stage trying to figure out if all the models will go out or not for the final walk. I put my foot down and say, “Yes!” I didn’t travel all this way, work so hard for them not to do the carousal walk. They do and at the end, I go out and give a wave and a smile. This is what I came for.
We fly backstage and start gathering clothing, accessories and shoes as they fly off the models preparing for their next show. I give my heartfelt gratitude to them for their professionalism, grace, and sharing their talents with Hopeless + Cause Atelier. Roby grabs his bag, after ensuring I had everything I needed, gives me a hug and runs out for an Uber to the airport. I could not have done this without him!!!! I double check that I have everything. Spending a moment to decompress and talk with the other designers, I then text my friend, Laura, to see if she wants to go celebrate. I meet her and Debra around the corner for a glass of wine and to hear their thoughts on the show.
I am grateful for the experience. In May 2014, it was suggested to me that I should design. In August 2014, I articulated that want in front of a crowd at 1 Million Cups. In January 2015, I had a conversation with an author (after hosting him on The Morning Brew) about fear and what was holding me back. It was through adversity, lessons learned, self-growth and attracting the right people, that I continued on this path.
“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and get up eight times.” Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
I am still green and life still has so much to offer, but I am grateful where I am and where I am going. Thank you for all of you who supported me this far. Thank you to Christina and Gio, who saw something in Hopeless + Cause Atelier and invited me to participate at FWLA. Thank you to Roby for being on this Fashion Week rollercoaster. Thank you to Tina and the team at The LA Fashion Magazine for all the coverage, beginning with my hometown preview in Albuquerque. Thank you Jamie for coming in to LA just for the show. Thank you to Laura and Debra for taking off of work to attend. Thank you to beautiful models: Leah, Kylie, Marija, Dana, Talise, Karis, Alexia, Emily, and Chloe (and to the model I didn’t really get to meet). Thank you for the team that helped pull this off. I know, on a smaller scale, how hard it is and generally, people don’t know the work that goes in to these types of events. Thank you for all the love notes, encouragement and support.
“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.” Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
With light and love,