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Flashing lights, thumping music and models strutting down the catwalk – Omaha Fashion Week has just ended.
Now in its ninth year, Omaha Fashion Week finally broke in its new home last week at the newly renovated Omaha Design Center, which is adjacent to the Tip Top Building near 16th and Cuming Streets.
Among those celebrating the city’s fashion scene were several University of Nebraska at Omaha students who participated — some were models, volunteers and spectators — in the week-long fashion event.
UNO Senior Jessica Martin had heard a lot about the event, but this year was her first time attending as a spectator.
“It was exhilarating,” she said of the event.
Omaha Fashion Week showcases the artist work of local designers, eccentric hair-dos from the city’s most prominent stylists and clothing ensembles and outfits from area boutiques. Each night is designated a theme from ready-to-wear, evening wear to haute couture.
“It was a great experience, being surrounded by so many chic people… artists, designers and photographers,” Martin said.
In a video montage, co-founder and producer Brook Hudson said she hopes to foster creative minds
and create memories in the new Omaha Design space.
“Showcase, sell and celebrate is what this is all about,” she said.
People of all ages lined the seats at Omaha Fashion Week festivities. Most nights, tickets were completely sold out.
The venue houses 2,000 people standing and 1,000 seated throughout the building.
Omaha Fashion Week is the nation’s fifth largest fashion show. More than 1,000 people are involved in putting the event together including: stylists, makeup art-ists, models, designers, volunteers and assistants.
Caleb Foote, a UNO senior who follows Omaha’s fashion scene, noticed a trend in diversity in appearances and apparel in some collections and others, not so much.
“The biggest travesty was seeing the men and women who wore the classic clothes,” Foote said. “Fashion shows are progressive and they should take risks.”
Speaking of risk-taking, UNL sophomore Jessica Larsen would probably have a similar description for the way she felt the first time she modeled at Omaha Fashion Week six years ago.
Larsen walked during Friday night’s showcasing of Ciara Fortun designs.
She gave us a glimpse of the modeling process. She arrives to a local salon hours before the catwalk event to have hair stylists primp her hair and makeup. Once her look is perfected, she then heads to the venue to get dressed and have last-minute adjustments made to her outfit by the designer.
“The nerves I get before being on stage don’t come until I’m right behind the curtain, ready to go out,” Larsen said.
“While I’m walking on stage, it’s the craziest thing to be stared at by hundreds of people with dozens of camera pointed at you while you are dressed to a ‘T’,” she said. “It’s the moment you’d been waiting for all day.”
If an audience member happens to see an outfit on the runway that they want to add to their wardrobe collection, they were encouraged to text the designer directly. On an oversized screen the designer’s name and a specific number were projected so patrons could purchase the item right there.
People were sipping on drinks, taking selfies and browsing at the pop-up boutiques placed inside the venue before and after the show.
If there was one thing Jessica Martin would like to see different, based on her first show, she said it would be to see more local designs than boutiques.
“This show seemed more focused on retailers, like Younkers,” Martin said. “I hope to be introduced to more new names at my next show.”