Milwaukee Talks: Fashion Week founder Hillary Fry
For some people talking fashion is like a foreign language: bangle, clutch, capelet, couture, ready-to-wear-are you lost yet? For those who want an education in all things fashionable or for those who are already well versed in Christian Laboutin and the latest "Rachel Zoe Project" episode, Milwaukee Fashion Week offers a foray into the stiletto-clad world of fashion.
Hillary Fry, owner of Solessence, a natural / organic spa products company, is the event producer of Milwaukee Fashion Week and she spoke with us about this exciting, first-time event running from Oct. 3-6 at various venues throughout Milwaukee.
The week will be capped off at the Milwaukee Art Museum on Monday, Oct. 6 with a runway "couture experience" by fashion designer Gilles Montezin of ready-to-wear and couture looks, plus a tribute to Yves St. Laurent.
OnMilwaukee.com: The company you own is Solessence. What is Solessence?
Hillary Fry: Solessence is a premiere lifestyle brand and manufacturer of natural and organic spa products and is the producer of Milwaukee Fashion Week. Based in Wisconsin, Solessence has been requested at events such as People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful," the Billboard Awards, Emmy Awards, SAG Awards and on TV Guide Network's "The Fashion Team."
Solessence is sold worldwide and through prestige spa channels such as The Pfister Well Spa, and chains like Whole Food Market and Beauty Brands. The company focuses on users "experiencing the power of pampering" through premier product, fun in philanthropy, and promoting artistic opportunities within their headquarter state of Wisconsin.
OMC: How long had Milwaukee Fashion Week been in the works? Where did you get the idea?
Fry: MFW came out of a longtime desire to create business and learning opportunities for the large creative community we have in Wisconsin, while incorporating the fun everyone loves to have when going out.
It became increasingly frustrating for me to hear people say that nothing exciting ever happens in Milwaukee, and that it isn't possible to make a livelihood as a makeup artist / designer, etc. I think that that mantra is a little dated, because if you look around you can see this is not entirely true. However, perception is a reality, and there is a bit of truth in that creative opportunities are much more concentrated on the coasts, and don't reach up here to Milwaukee.
I thought it would be wonderful to have a celebrity-infused event that would showcase this beautiful city. The idea was to bring in heavyweights that would act as mentors in a way-sharing their stories, talents and techniques, while supporting a showcase of primarily designer talent. The goal is to bring people in from all walks of life to take the word back out, whether they erase outdated ideas of the city, or realize Milwaukee is a great location for a convention, or discover new artists and lines to help launch. If you look at thriving cities, the key is that they are not insular. It is important to open up, support and constantly feed the entertainment, educational and lifestyle needs of residents and potential visitors.
OMC: What is your vision for MFW? Does it have a theme?
Fry: This year I'd just love to see everyone come out and have a great time. We are a city of festivals, and this is a "fashion for the people" kind of event. It is four days of fun, beauty, fashion and a little fantasy. For the fashionista and beauty addict, it will be an amazing industry-type event. In general it will be a great party.
I really wanted to showcase all of what a fashion show is about. Not just clothing; but talent in makeup, hair, what a model does, what a stylist does. If you want to be an accountant, you have a pretty clear-cut path to that end goal. If you are creative, you can wander for years without direction. Hopefully by exposing people to the many, many roles involved, some will see a creative career is a viable option.
Each day is grouped by collections that play off of each other. Friday night talent is an edgy, hip, yet accessible look.
Saturday covers the realm of dresses, from day to evening, and possibly wedding (looks). Sunday is Ford Models day, where there is an open call for ages five and above. All sizes. All heights. In response we also have a show featuring great talent that design for all types, including a special collection maternity debut of FIERCE by Christian Siriano for Moody Mamas.
Monday is an Industry Icons day with a special 35-piece couture collection by Gilles Montezin. He will feature his ready-to-wear couture, movie pieces and then a tribute to Yves St. Laurent.
What is wonderful about this event is that you will be able to meet the designers and make a connection with them, see their work up close, and purchase (the fashion) on-site or order custom designs.
OMC: What exciting events are at Milwaukee Fashion Week?
Fry: Saturday features several workshops in fashion styling, fashion photography and fashion design. Some of the speakers and credentials include Jean Vouté Pratt, (who is on) "Access Hollywood" and recently mentioned in The New York Times. She has a simple but clear way of deconstructing style that will not intimidate. She will cover two different styles per day. Great for those looking to expand or understand a certain look, and she will show people what it is it's like to be a fashion stylist. There might be more opportunities with the film industry opening up here.
In fashion design, Elise Rosemarin, co-collaborator with Christian Siriano (of "Project Runway" fame) will discuss what it's like to launch a collection and the Los Angeles fashion community, what going into production is like and what it's like working with Christian Siriano.
On Monday there is a rare opportunity to workshop with Billy B and Syd Curry. A two-part, two-hour session will cover their stories, how the business works and how to achieve the makeup and hair looks that will be shown during the Gilles Montezin show. Billy is famous for luminous, natural sheen and texture-one of the hardest looks to create. He will show the novice and makeup artists how to achieve this look. Billy normally gets $5,000 per face, and $150-$300 per person in workshop. Syd Curry does not even offer instruction. This is rare!
Couture in your closet: Gilles Montezin has also donated a $7,000 gown for auction to benefit the Thembalethu Children's Home. The winning bidder will meet Gilles, have the dress fitted and Gilles will alter the gown back in his New York studio. It's a couture lover's dream! The dress will go on display at Boutique B'lou at Pfister Hotel the week prior to the event. Gilles will also be speaking to students at Mount Mary College on Monday, Oct. 6.
On Monday we will have a special piano recital by concert pianist Andrew Axelrod. Andrew has ties to UW-Madison from years ago! Page 1 of 2 (view all on one page)
Unfortunately, Fashion Week was cancelled. But I must say... it is inexcusable to yet receive ticket refunds for a Fashion Show Week that never took place. Fashion Week was scheduled for Oct 3-6 2008. As of now (Dec 2, 2008), I have yet to receive a refund, return email or return phone call from the organizers of Fashion Week. What a turn off. Next time there is a fashion show organized by Hillary Fry and Solessence, I WILL NOT BE ATTENDING. And other Milwaukee fashion enthusiasts will be informed of the lack of follow through with Fashion Week.
1 comment about this article.
Post a comment / write a review.
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.