Washingtonians put great value on the utility of all things. For example, first date talking points include, “What do you do?” “Who do you work for?” “Do you think you could connect me with…?” Unsurprisingly, Washington takes the same approach with fashion. In a city where a bespoke blazer is the holy grail of any wardrobe, utility of fashion means a perfect power piece to get you from point A to point B. At my first fall DC Fashion Week, a flagship event which sets the tone for the coming year’s trends, I quickly noticed the event caters almost exclusively to ready-to-wear styles for a diversity of women. This was a sharp departure from the avant-garde (aka, who cares if it’s not wearable – it’s art!) nature of fashion week I had come to know and love as a native New Yorker.
Now in its 13th year, DCFW removes the buffer zone between the runway and the front row. Designers – local, international, student, emerging, and minorities – send pieces down the catwalk created and destined for women of all types – petite, actual plus-size (like, double the industry standard size 8), curvy, hijabi, and skin tones of every possibility. Each collection has a clear and committed influence, whether it’s afro-prints, southern Sunday best, or Katy Perry circa 2010. Each piece is presented as wearable and immediately understandable – a crux of style in a city where style is on the periphery of pressing issues.
- After DCFW I caught up with its founder, Ean Williams, who told me that accessibility – to designers, models, and consumers – has always been the goal. By bringing together ambitious, diverse and talented creators, DCFW seeks to be a capital for the business of fashion – and not necessarily the fashion scene itself. In other words, DCFW isn’t trying to change the district’s approach to fashion, it is try to change its viability in the fashion market.
As DCFW pushes the boundary on what fashion week itself should be, it does so by staying close to its native – and somewhat safe – style roots. Heavy on elegance and pops of color, I see myself indulging in these collections for a significant career event or an inaugural ball. As a Washington transplant (like many others), the DCFW collections represent the ideals of DC style, to be worn by anyone who wants to fit in and live the #dclife.
Have you seen my New York Fashion Week coverage? Here it is – runway, street style & social issues.
All runway images are from Phelan Marc.
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