Indianapolis “Press” Week…A Review of Midwest Fashion Week’s Last Night

The following historical description is listed under the history section by Wikipedia. “The first New York Fashion Week, then called Press Week, was the world’s first organized fashion week. Held in 1943, the even was designed to attract attention away from French fashion during World War II, when fashion industry insiders were unable to travel to Paris to see French fashion shows. Fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert organized an event she called “Press Week” to showcase American designers for fashion journalists, who had previously neglected their innovations. (Buyers were to admitted to the shows and instead had to visit designers’ showrooms.) Press Week was a success, and fashion magazines like Vogue, which were normally filled with French designs, increasingly featured American fashion.” This definition is in any basic fashion text and took us less than five minutes to look up under “purpose of a fashion show” online.

In writing a review you must first understand exactly what you are reviewing. Thus the major problem with the finale of Midwest Fashion Week; was the gala a fashion show or a fundraiser? The reason we ask is because we’ve been to our share of fashion shows, nationally, and press are treated exceptionally well and are actually given exposure to the collections, models and typically an up close look at the designs being shown on the runway. We’ve also been to our share of charity events and fundraisers, nationally, and press are rarely present unless they have made a donation or bought a ticket as we always do and have documentation to prove. Anyone who knows us, professionally, personally or from background research, knows we are philanthropists and huge supporters of charity, having thrown several fundraising events ourselves. Per Sola Adelowo, executive director and co-producer of Midwest Fashion Week, “The Gala was a fundraiser for Down Sydrome and the closing fashion show for MFW.”

So, let’s investigate this further. First, we were sent the media information from Indyscene because we write a social review column on Indyscene. The information sent from MFW to Indyscene was an outline of the week’s events. We then contacted Berny Martin, founder and producer of MFW and asked for media passes to Saturday’s events, unclear about whether or not this was strictly a fundraiser or a fashion show who informed us, without any other information, that passes…not media passes or seats to the gala…just passes, with no explanation, would be waiting for us at “media” check-in.

Now let’s pause on this for just a moment. Never once were we informed we would be expected to purchase tickets to be part of the event and actually participate in the event. At this point, we’re probably sounding rather petty and appearing as if we wanted something for free. Hmmm…do you know who we are or how we live? Trust us, we can more than afford to buy tickets to any event we choose to support and we had actually brought a check with us to make a rather substantial donation, but we were never given the chance as we were treated like second class citizens. Since we were given no information regarding the event, we contacted Sola the day of the event and asked what time we should attend, were there certain things they wanted us to experience so we could write and talk about them. We ended the e-mail with “Excited for tonight and hope we get to personally meet you!” We have yet to meet Sola, regretfully. We finally did receive a response from Sola…at 11:40 p.m. while we were at the after party at Hyde…while Sola sat ten feet away from us on a couch in the VIP section.

So let’s review our amazing evening. We were extremely excited to attend this event. As a therapist who has previously worked with down syndrome children and having had a mother who worked for years as an educator with children of autism and down syndrome, this was a fundraiser close to our hearts. Not to mention that we are deeply involved in fashion, nationally, and are attempting to endorse the fashion industry in Indianapolis. When we arrived, we went to the “media” desk and signed in. On the two page, stapled media list, were literally tons of media representatives who had already checked in. We were not given press passes and told to go upstairs where the media were segregated. Hearing this, we were a little apprehensive. Once we arrived upstairs, we saw three tables and a spread of lunch meat, bags of potato chips, a bowl of pasta salad, bread rolls and plastic carafes of water. Oh…and plastic cups. No one met with us. No one introduced themselves to us from MFW and no one explained what we were supposed to do or what the outline for the evening would entail. We were not given an itinerary of the night and are unable, without research which we refuse to do, write about the specific designers or entertainers, because we were not given a press kit or press information as we are ALWAYS given. Below us, far below us, was the gala event. We could barely see the stage or make out anything specific on the runway. After a few moments we ran into another “media” representative who is also a friend, and sat with her for the next hour. Our initial reaction was to turn and walk out. We have never, NEVER, been as humiliated as we were walking into this event. And the kicker…our friend, a woman from a New York based fashion website and ourselves were the only three, not MFW organized media, upstairs. So, where was everyone else?

Today we emailed Sola asking about the process Midwest Fashion Week takes for accommodating their media? We asked how some were placed in the gala dining area and others weren’t? Her response, “The roof ballroom does not allow sitting for individuals that have not paid for dining. So to accommodate the media there was space in the front of the ballroom and close to the runway to make it easier to take pictures or to observe any one designer’s work up close.” Ohhhhh…well, we were never told that so we were literally huddled behind two children up in the rafters. Literally. We couldn’t even see Andi Hauser of Indy Style who emceed the event. “However,” she wrote, “some media sponsors such as WISH TV, FOX 59, and The Recorder dined in various locations throughout the ballroom. We also had several members of the media purchase their own tickets so they could dine before beginning their work when the show started.” Interesting, because we were never given this option. We don’t know Sola personally, or at all really, but we looked at her Linkedin profile. She has a rather impressive professional background, especially her being the Founder and Certified Image Consultant of ImageCube. Even more interesting, if you read her profile, you’ll find she has been a featured personal image expert on the Fox 59 Morning News Show, Indy Style TV, and the Recorder-On-Air-Report. Our question is if “media” is purchasing tickets for the event than are they really “media”?

After several hours of being at this event, we were so hungry we almost left, but stayed because we wanted to see the fashion show. Even though none of the food upstairs looked appetizing, we ate some pasta salad, shared a roll and had two bags of chips. We need to apologize because until we received the email from Sola today, we hadn’t understood this was actually a “hospitality station” for the models, volunteers and stylists. Basically, “media” passes meant we were allowed to just walk in and witness the event from afar. Again…literally. Well, we didn’t even need to do that because we know several people that walked in, didn’t check in and sat in the ballroom.

This was not a fashion show. This was not about fashion. This was a charity event. A very nice, charity event we’re sure. We can’t review that because we didn’t experience it. What we could see we thought was ok as far as charity events go. It was neat to see models with down syndrome walk the runway and it was inspiring. We know Mike Rypel, who told us he produced the event, and we’re well aware that Mike knows what he’s doing when it comes to throwing an event, so we’re sure the charity and gala part were all good. We hope they raised a lot of money because it’s a charity which deserves a good fundraiser.

As far as the fashion show, well that’s a different story. But before we discuss this let it be clear that we watched the show from the second floor, far away without ability to see detail, which is sad because we were excited to see designs from some of our friends such as R. Lynda and Antonio Fermin. It was so hard to see, especially with two children in front of us, but we’ll attempt to give a review anyway. First of all, if we’re attempting to make Indianapolis a serious focal point of fashion, why aren’t we bringing a designer who someone actually cares about and is interested in seeing their designs. Actually, Althea Harper, runner up to Project Runway Season 6 was at the event but was not highlighted or mentioned during the show. If you’ve done your research, as we have, you would know that Althea has shown at every Mercedes Benz fashion week in New York City since being on Project Runway. Althea also studied and worked under Alexander McQueen, Zac Posen, Anna Sui and Vivienne Westwood. Althea had a lot to say about the show. We would know because we hung out and partied with her until the after party closed. The girl is not only gorgeous and talented but the real deal. Interestingly, she informed us, that “media” and “press” are treated exceptionally well at New York Fashion Week.

The runway was cheesy. The tapered material looked tacky. The spotlight was on the DJ instead of on the runway. Designers should always walk out after their models. That’s pretty basic stuff. In talking to Althea she told us that fashion shows are always about the models and that the quality of the show is completely about the models picked. So, people want a real review of the fashion show, here you go.

Most of the models couldn’t walk. In fact, only a few appeared to have any walking experience. While we loved many of the designs, there lacked a cohesiveness in any of the shows. No theme carried the designs together. A plus-sized model is a size 8-12, unless there is a purpose for bigger girls. But, we actually loved the designs of the designer of plus-sized clothes. We can’t really comment on anything else because we couldn’t see the show. Most of the models were used by all of the designers therefore the models ran from downstairs to the changing room upstairs, easily seen by anyone in the dining area or upstairs. Every designer had pieces we loved, being able to see them closer as the models walked upstairs, but we don’t know who matched what designer as we weren’t given a press release as previously mentioned.

In the past, we’ve heard rather bad things about Midwest Fashion Week, but now we’ve experienced it first hand. We loved the student show and were treated extremely well but to have been treated so horribly in return later in the week is confusing. Ian Stikeleather was responsible for taking care of us at the student show so maybe he should be made more responsible in the future for further events. He knows how to treat “media”.

During the show Andi Hauser commented that Berny Martin “sets the bar” for Indianapolis. Well, that wouldn’t be our opinion. In our opinion the two people setting the bar in Indianapolis are model Emily Nyberg and student designer Lorry Plasterer. These two women are so far above their game that the Indianapolis fashion industry should be chasing them down!

By the way, SEXIEST of the evening goes to Polina Oscherov! This incredible photographer has amazing style anyway, but wow! Out of control!

Thanks for the photo booth Mike! We love those things and are seriously thinking about buying one for our house.

Well, until next year. WAIT! We forgot. This will officially be our last year to support or endorse Midwest Fashion Week. And before everyone gets all hyped up threatening us with ridiculous claims, all of the information in this column is backed by factual evidence or is our opinion, as stated.

And for the record, fashion shows may be about the models, but they started…because of the “media”.

Eyes Open, We’re Watching!

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