Traveling with me is not glamorous. I’m usually traveling on a tight budget and staying near the venue. Usually the day before, I’m holed up in the hotel room sewing and there might be fitting appointments with the models. And sometimes, there are midnight runs to a 24-hour Wal-mart in the next state for a sewing machine needle. There’s always some hiccup because to be honest I live the life of Ms. Adventures. But there’s always a story and and when someone goes with me, I am incredibly grateful for the company and help.
This time was no different and I was happy Ang offered to join me to Austin Fashion Week. I was excited to return to this event. I specifically returned to Austin because after my first show with the team, back in May 2017, I found that the production company Fashion by Events was so incredibly organized, communicated well and the event went off flawlessly.
Two weeks before my showing date (Sunday, November 13th) I received the model comp cards. I was to create 7 designs for the show. If you’ve been reading along, I had chosen my color palette, Harvest–oat, olive, blueberry, raspberry and pumpkin. My design aethestic is edgy-demure. It’s everyday wear with an unexpected twist. This collection was no different. It was a matter of finalizing designs based on the models.
My day job was hopping! I was invited to lead a few conversations on event execution and holiday gift ideas. I was planning several give back events and trying to see as many clients as possible, so my sewing time was over the evening hours and on days off. And as I’ve said before, I suffer from creative blocks…meaning, I can’t create properly unless I’m in the right mind set which sadly, sometimes it’s just days, and in extreme cases, hours before a show. Things were coming along though. As the co-chair of employee resource group, I lead the team on an activity about “bringing your amazing self to work”. One of the questions was, to describe yourself in one word. I have been often told that I am a connector of sorts. As I prepared for this activity, I gave that descriptor some thought, but found that I strive not to be just a connector, and not that there is anything wrong with that. Bringing people together is a wonderful trait, but I truly attempt something more. And it brought me back to the creative process of fashion. I described myself as, “thread”. The thread creates a bond and when done properly, is pretty tight and strong. I love that I have woven lives together through my everyday and fashion encounters and have always tried to create inclusion in everything I do, but specifically in my designs.
I took the week off before the show to provide ample time for necessary changes, but because I fly by the seat of my pants, I found out Jane’s Addiction was going to Denver the weekend before Austin. As one of my favorite bands, I hadn’t them since the early nineties. And the fun thing about it was, I was seeing them with the person I had seen them with decades ago. So after a quick trip to Denver I got back to work: cutting, sewing, buying last minute embellishments. We were leaving on Friday. I packed my sewing machine and garment bag filled with finished and semi-finished looks. It was definitely going to be a sewing in my room kind of trip.
I was on a budget for this trip. The cost to be in the show was $500, materials $300 and airfare another $250 so I planned on $700 for hotel, food and transportation. I had shopped and shopped for the right priced hotel near the venue. We checked into the hotel and after some issues on figuring out how to split the bill, we dropped our things and walked over to Pappadeux’s for dinner. It was unseasonably cold in Austin. I was planning to show a spring/summer collection and the town was blanketed in a cold front with rain. It was going to be lots of fun for an outdoor venue.
After a day of traveling, we hit the hay. The next day, I set up my atelier at the room desk. Ang relaxed watching movies. I sewed sewed and sewed. We decided to go to the fashion week venue, the Domain, for dinner for the purpose of finding the exact location of the show and to see what the area had to offer. We found a fun Mexican restaurant: cheered to our adventures, had a good meal and after wandering through the local Macy’s, we headed back to the hotel.
The next morning I had an 8:30am call time to do fitting with the models. Waking to freeze warnings, I once again felt bad for my warm weather designs, but as the models came through, they shared after day one they were fully prepared with UGGs and robes that they shook off just before hitting the runway. I was scheduled to show at 3:30pm. While I was bummed that I wouldn’t have my friend, and local, Carmen walking for Hopeless + Cause Atelier. I enjoyed out the looks I created meshed for the models assigned to me. I did have one last minute change but the line up was complete and ready to go.
I always enjoy when I have the time to talk with other designers. It’s wonderful to hear about their backgrounds and creative process. Events like Austin Fashion Week are filled with locals and there is such a big and supportive community locally. I shared a space with a swimsuit designer, Atlantia Swimwear. We shared our love of creating sustainable fashion and building a space for all body types.
Ang arrived about 1pm and I met her so we could get checked in. We did a customary usie and found some seats that she would have a close view of the show. I stayed around for half of the first round of designers. Then headed back upstairs to start dressing the models. I was second on deck for the 3:30pm show. I lined up with the models in an indoor hallway within the building we were working out of because it was so flippin cold to be outdoors until we received instructions to head out to back of house. Ang had asked me if I was going to walk out with the models when the end the show with their carousel walk. Ugh—if you know me, you know I hate that. I like for my designs to speak for themselves.
As we were instructed to head out to line up the models danced, ran in place and bundled closely to the ground to try to stay warm. A minute before we started, I pulled them together a took a photo then they lined up and hit the runway. The songs I chose for the show were: Nelly Furtado x Quarterhead All Good Things (Come to an End) and “Dreams” version by Borelli (thanks for all the inspiring suggestions they provided my motivation while I was creating).
I’m often asked how I find success after a show. Of course if I get an order for a design after a show, that is one measure. But another for me is how I feel after the show and how the audience reacts. I used to want to get picked up by a department store like Macy’s or Bergdorf but really I like being part of the major event in my client’s lives: a wedding, a gala, a special occasion that they have a one of a kind look for. I ended the show coming out to the ruway videotaping the models do their final walk and curtseying.
How lucky am that I get to travel to show case my creations for communities all over to see and get to write about it. Once again I’m that woven thread to new places and experiences that I tie together with loved ones who travel with me. Thanks Ang for joining me and for having to deal with my Ms. Adventures…
What’s next…New York in February is booked and I plan to see shows that also produce in Paris. Stay tuned and I hope you will join me.
With light and love,
Dara Sophia Romero