Oct 5, 2008

Fashion First- Seattle's Best Runway Show



In order to understand boutique fashion, you have to know a little bit about why I’m so into Seattle’s independent boutiques. For the past five year’s I’ve worked as a producer for Fashion First and that is precisely when I fell madly in love with boutiques.



Fashion First started in 2004 by Jared Seegmiller and Joan Kelly. The original goal was to provide much needed exposure to the small, independent boutiques in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle and give them the opportunity to participate in a fabulous runway fashion show. Many of them had great apparel and accessories but just like many small businesses they had very little money to do marketing or promotions. Fashion First helped to fill that void and five years later continues to showcase the best designers and boutiques in the Seattle area.



The first show was held in 2004 at the Bada Lounge on First Avenue. The slogan was "There is only one style that suits you- your own". The lineup consisted of Sway & Cake, Ian, Baby & Co., Endless Knot, Moda Express, Ottica Seattle, Kuhlman, Karan Dannanberg Clothier, Alhambra, Carol McClellan, Maxwelton Aerie Apaca, Nuvo Moda, Mercer & Co., David Lawrence and J.Gilbert Footwear. The show was a huge success and even before the evening concluded guests were inquiring about next year’s showcase and how they could buy tickets in advance.

Tragically, eight months after the first show co-producer Jared Seegmiller passed away from cancer. It was then that Joan Kelly and I made the decision to continue doing the show in his memory as a tribute and also as a benefit event for The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. The 2005 show was bittersweet but it was beautiful. We upgraded the venue from a bar into the Palace Ballroom on Fifth Avenue. We even got to work with a larger lineup of boutiques including Ian, Encanto Barcelona, Alhambra, Nuvo Moda, Betty Blue, Cinti Jewelry, Lizzie Parker, Ottica Seattle, Moda Express, Great Jones home, Endless Knot, Mercer, Planet Lulu, Carol McLellan, Sway & Cake and Butch Blum.



The 2006 show was sold out just like the first two and our scope of boutiques changed from Belltown Businesses and expanded to all over the city including West Seattle and Downtown. Our line up that year included Karan Dannenberg Clothier, Ericce, Blackbird, Canopy Blue, Nuvo Moda, Lizzie Parker, Furla, Carmilia’s, Renee Bassetti, Ottica, Manhattan Boutique, Cintli Jewelry, Moda Express, Alhambra, Derek Andrew, Encanto Barcelona, Promesse, Sway & Cake, Riveted Jeans and a finale set by Mario’s.

By the fourth annual show (Fashion First 2007) it was clear that we were the biggest and best runway show in Seattle and the best part was, we were still having a fabulous time doing it! This was the year we upgraded the venue to Fremont Studios and gave VIP guests a lounge of their very own. The lineup included La Ree, Polite Society, Illi, Posh on Main, The Finerie, Carmilia’s, Ragamoffyn’s, Marqsmen, Lizzie Parker, Tatters, Renee Bassetti, Pine IV Denim, Alhambra, Riveted Jeans, and Sway and Cake. The event also featured a finale with a special final dress by students at The Art Institute of Seattle worn by former first lady of Washington, Mona Locke.

This past year was our fifth annual show (Fashion First 2008) and we’re proud to say it was a completely sold out as expected. We moved the venue to Lake Union and prayed our plan to naturally air condition the building by keeping the windows open all day would work. We had a solid line up including Sway & Cake, Marqsmen, La Ree, Tatters, Opal, Illi, Canopy Blue, Ragamoffyn’s, Rock Star Jewelry, Marilyn Berg, Petaline.net, WCM Belts, Rocco E Dante, Shoefly, Clutch, The Finerie and a final dress by students at The Art Institute of Seattle worn by celebrity model and former Melrose Place Star, Josie Bissett.

Working with the best and brightest boutiques in the city has given me an immense amount of respect for all of their hard work bringing the hottest apparel and accessories to Seattle. It’s truly a labor of love and I’m honored to have been able to spend the past five years working amongst them in order to produce Fashion First.
Since then I've moved on from Fashion First and have been focusing on working in the industry as the Mens Private Label Sourcing & Production Manager for a local apparel company and of course, doing freelance writing for fashion publications in addition to writing for my blog. But with all that being said, Fashion First will always have a special place in my heart!

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