The bass kicks, lights flash, flashbulbs flicker. Local celebrities and media jockey for position as models primp one last time.
Palpable excitement flowed through the glamorous digs at the Club at Key Center before the kickoff of last year's Cleveland Fashion Show. More than 500 guests in black-tie attire packed the downtown club to preview some of the hottest spring fashions from Cleveland designers and boutiques.
This year's event marks the fourth time Cleveland's fashion opinion leaders will gather to see and be seen, and to enjoy a celebration of local style. The Cleveland Fashion Show takes place Saturday, May 8, at 8 p.m. at the Club at Key Center in downtown Cleveland.
Like Grammy or Oscar night, the audience is as much a part of the event as the models, designers, media and producers.
For 2004, the show's founder and producer, Dr. Donald C. Shingler, has planned another evening complete with a VIP pre-party, gourmet dinner at The Club, a fabulous show featuring 20 models and an "extreme" after-party.
The show itself crowns a week of activities dubbed FashionWeekCleveland 2004, which includes a multimedia "fashion abstraction" party on Saturday, May 1, at the Colonial ArtCade downtown and a sushi party at Cloud 9 nightclub in the Warehouse District on May 7.
Shingler and his team of volunteers work year-round to secure designers and fashion boutiques for the show. This year's roster of participants includes Novotny Furs and Fashions, Europtical and Adesso Clothiers in Rocky River, Franklin and Main in ChagrinÎ©Falls, Spa West and Ohio Clinic Skin Care and Day Spa in Westlake, Vivid Jewelers in Bay Village, Europa International Salon and Spa in Beachwood, Catan's Bridal and Fashions in Strongsville and the Shannon Rodgers and Jerry Silverman School of Fashion Design and Merchandising at Kent State University.
The show will highlight what's cool for spring 2004. From Avon to Chagrin Falls, retailers and designers are heralding a rainbow of bright colors. "The top styles for spring: anything bright," says Ann Crump, owner of Franklin and Main. "Color is everywhere. Capris are still very hot, martini prints and peekaboo high heels." Her upscale, contemporary boutique sells women's clothes, accessories, shoes, jewelry, bathing suits and intimate apparel ranging from $50 to $350.
Even the staid world of fur has discovered a fresh palette. The runways in New York were filled with colorful interpretations of nature. "Bright colors are really the most exciting thing in fur that we've seen for years," says Steve Csiszar, vice presidVnt of Novotny Furs and Fashions. Red, yellow, green and purple accent fur these days.
Five days before this year's show, Csiszar will return from a buying trip in Montreal, where he chooses next season's hippest outerwear: fur and fur-trimmed leather and cloth.
"Fur was all over the runways and in every fashion magazine for next fall," Csiszar says. He's hoping the trend for colorful fur shrugs, wraps and full-length coats continues.
Engaging color will mark the world of women's cosmetics as well. Shari Porach, an aesthetician and makeup artist at Ohio Clinic Skin Care and Day Spa in Westlake, says she'll be including lots of bright hues mostly for the eyes on the models she's transforming for the show. "Soft pinks, turquoise, yellow and lavender are really hot for the spring season," she says.
Porach adds that a dewy, soft complexion never goes out of style. She helps clients attain the look using bronzers and creamy blush instead of powder. "Nude, glossy lips are still in, as well as classic red lips," she adds.
Retail fashion aside, the event also showcases two of the region's important Ã¸chools of fashion design: Kent State University and Virginia Marti College. Student designers from Virginia Marti College and the fashion school at Kent State will present their work alongside commercial designs from the boutiques. Volunteer groups from both schools help with preproduction planning and last-minute details.
Past participants include designers Anne Van Hauwaert, Michael Wilson and Dr. Maria Pujana.
So why does Shingler, a Cleveland-area dentist, cake so much time from his busy office schedule to produce and promote the Cleveland Fashion Show?
"There was a time when we avoided downtown. Cleveland had two nice restaurants we called them Pier East and Pier W," Shingler says. "Now, we have fine restaurants and retailers all around downtown. The Cleveland Fashion Show is all about Cleveland's new and growing big-city' lifestyle."
Shingler, a downtown resident, says he enjoys the city's urban lifestyle of loft apartments, trendy restaurants, nightclubs and fashion boutiques. "I feel privileged to be a cheerleader for my city," he adds. "There's no reason Cleveland can't be a leader in the fashion industry, we have so much talent here.
"The Cleveland Fashion Show is at the center of an important sector of the economy and lifestyle in Northeast Ohio."
VIP admission for the full evening is $125 and includes a champagne reception, gourmet dinner, the fashion show and after-party. Special guest admission for $45/$50 at the door includes hors d'oeuvres, the fashion show and after-party. General admission is $35/$40 at the door and includes the fashion show and after-party. To order tickets, call 1-877-877-7645.