Thursday, May 10, 2012

The City Gets Dressed up for Fashion Week

Cleveland is known for many things — Great Lakes beer, the Rock Hall, the first casino in Ohio -- but fashion isn’t one of them.

Yet every year since 2002, Cleveland has hit the runway with the third-largest Fashion Week event in the country, behind only New York and Los Angeles.

Fashion Week Cleveland’s climactic moment comes Saturday: a runway show and black-tie gala at the Halle Building downtown. Friday night brings another major event, a screening of the documentary Dressed.

The film, showing at the Cleveland Museum of Art, tells the story of Cleveland-born Nary Manivong (pictured), who reached his goal of becoming a designer, but only after he struggled with ruthless competition.

Director David Swajeski calls Dressed a realistic depiction of the fashion industry, not the idealized version of fashion-based reality shows. Project Runway and similar shows don’t accurately portray what it’s like to try to make it in the industry starting from scratch, he says.

“It shows you that if you really believe in yourself and you have a dream, you can accomplish things,” Swajeski says, “despite not having some of the things other top designers or design firms have.”

Dressed has also screened in New York City, Miami, Dallas, San Francisco and Columbus.

Saturday’s runway show includes designer Lotty Lewis, who spent most of her life on Cleveland’s West Side. Kent State University fashion instructor Trista Greider’s collection of wedding gowns for the modern woman will close the show.

“Cleveland has a great group of designers, and they really make [Fashion Week Cleveland] a special occasion,” says Swajeski. “It gives them a stage, a place to get recognized. Now, talent is coming from everywhere. It’s not just coming from New York, Paris, or Milan.”

The film is screening on Friday, May 11 at 6:45 pm in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Morley Lecture Hall. Tickets are $9, or $7 for seniors, students, and CMA members.

The runway show will take place at 9:30 pm on Saturday, May 12 in the Halle Department Store Building Fountain Room, 1212 Huron Road. VIP tickets $100, Special guest tickets $40. Cocktail party begins at 8. Tuxedo required.

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