If you're reading this you probably know that I spend a lot of my time swimming upstream and contradicting stereotypes. I've been called fiesty, firey, bitchy, stubborn, ballsy, badass, leader and queen (among other things). Last week I got to add co-founder, co-producer and runway model for Nashville's first inclusive fashion show to the mix.
We did it. Krystle Ramos and I managed to bring together ten designers (including an adaptive clothing company), two vintage clothing boutiques, 20 models and a staff of over 30 wardrobe stylists, makeup artists, hair stylists, photographers, and volunteers. Together with abrasive Media we put on a five-runway fashion show with the help of a great DJ and the music and fashion influences of David Bowie.
We proved to a sold out room and over a live stream to hundreds more that Fashion is for Every Body.
Our photographers did an excellent job of capturing the runway looks. Here are mine.
It was truly a transcendent experience, a rare gift borne of hard work, generosity and camaraderie. It started with ten designers and two vintage boutique owners willing to stake their reputation on the idea that their fashion is for every body. Twenty models of all ages, sizes and abilities walked and rolled down the runway like pros - and became friends in the process that got them there.
The photos of Back of House - hair, makeup and wardrobe - don't even come close to showing how amazingly efficient our team was in making everyone look their best for all five runway segments. Likewise, our photographers gave us stellar pictures using their own unique perspective of the event. The production team in charge of audio, video, model count and continuity were flawless, and the standing-room only audience clearly enjoyed the show. I'm also very proud of our team in charge of handicap parking and disability accommodation. We had 14 wheelchairs total and everyone was able to park and have full access to the show.
But it wasn't all good. If the caterer had actually shown up Front of House may have been able to do their job. That's right; Jones Road Cuisine essentially stole $1200 of our donor's money by performing a disappearing act, which left us with no food and no one to serve cocktails. It also meant our Front of House volunteers had to scramble for a last-minute replacement with almost no funds. Thankfully, J Jackson Mobile Mixologist and Smokin' Thighs restaurant came to our rescue. They had food and drink going in plenty of time for guests to eat, drink and enjoy themselves.
I think my better half summed up the lessons learned from this experience quite nicely:
Lessons I learned while helping plan a runway fashion show.
1. You need more front of house.
2. Have a back up plan.
3. Schedule time to change into your good clothes (poor guy was so busy putting out fires he never got a chance).
4. Have another back up plan.
5. Video the whole thing so you'll have a clue how it was.
6. Have money set aside to fund the back up plan.
In the end, it was a magical, alchemical synthesis of heart, soul, love and support. The take-away for me wasn't the clothes or even the runway; it was the people. When we started this journey eight months ago I had no experience working with a group of this size. Now I think I did a decent job bringing them all together, learned from my mistakes, and added one person to my "I trust you completely" list (and, believe me, that's a single-digit list).
We do have video, lots more photos and more in-depth stories and information coming soon on the Fashion is for Every Body site. We've also decided to take steps to extend Fashion is for Every Body into a full-fledged organization.