After one week of events, three days of runway shows, twelve designers, a few dozen models, four wine varietals and a house-made sangria, San Francisco Fashion Week came to its close on Sept. 28, not with a bang, but with a charmingly unceremonious call. “Okay that’s it, go and drink now,” said the event’s founder, Owen Geronimo. This had been his preferred closing statement for the past three nights of shows held at coworking space, ECO-SYSTM.
Geronimo has a track record of launching design organizations in the Bay Area. In 2009 alone, he founded San Francisco Fashion Week, the San Francisco Fashion and Merchants Alliance (SFFAMA), and the Fashion Tech Network.
The first night of shows was dedicated to emerging designers. Lisa Oliveras kicked off the evening with her eponymous line of unapologetically all-black dresses and separates.
California Crown, a street and surf line followed with a black and white “Indian Summer” collection that played around with their logo as a design element.
Then finally, color! Jeaneen Brunick showcased two of her most recent collections, a romantic Greco-Roman line and a stained glass inspired line, which complemented each other gracefully.
Aryea Kolubah distanced herself from the punchy, rich hues typical of her roots in Liberia and opted for stark whites for her line, “Yia’Re Couture”. What sometimes lacked in technical construction in emerging designers’ collections was made up for in winning statement pieces, like Jeaneen Brunck’s wire molded, stained glass inspired dress and Kolubah’s sweeping white lace dress. Bunck’s dress had colored panels that looked like precise wood inlay.
Saturday was the first of the two ready-to-wear shows, and the four collections united around the use of decadent materials. From “The Me-nimal” by Mike Seneriches, we saw rich silks and satins in pastels and jewel tones. Maison Michel Ange flossed out with furs, feathers and the night’s winning look of a kilt and studded leather jacket with “I.D.G.A.F.” handpainted across the back. “Shock Feathers” by Mila Hagen experimented with shirting fabrics, laying pinstripes on the bias in neo-futuristic dresses and hooded outerwear. Brigid Ko did not disappoint with her collection pieces made from salvaged inner tubes. Her claim that the line was “upcycling like you haven’t seen before” held true; the one of a kind pieces were risqué, fetishy and covetable.
The final day of shows was more conceptually disjointed than the previous day, but two solid themes emerged from the night. From the ‘transportative’ set, fantasy and folklore were registered as sources of inspiration at Apoteca. The collection relied heavily on a digitally-printed fabric featuring a colorful, fantastical collage of wildlife from tropical parrots to woodland owls. The silky garments were paired with strings of furry baubles dangling from models’ necks and wrapped around their waists.
“A” by Anubha was anchored by their signature mandarin collar on cropped jackets and coats. The collection had a 60s mod vibe with its muted pinks and teals, paired playfully with oversized round, tinted sunglasses.
Another trend showcased was practicality and comfort, iterated in very different ways. Stella Carakasi exhibited a line of sophisticated, drapey, eco-wear for the conservative woman with Eileen Fischer sensibilities.
Conversely Betabrand, one of San Francisco’s more recognizable labels, showcased their line of clothing for adult babies. Their brand has become synonymous with office wear that has athletic capabilities, which in this collection meant reflective plaid shirts, pinstripe hoodies and “dress pant sweatpants.” At times the demonstrative rebellion against everything “grown up” can inspire some eye rolling, but their tongue-in-cheek nature and overall silliness tended to win over crowds. These crowds in particular were visibly tickled by one model who gallivanted down the runway in an unzipped, discoball fabric onesie, and another who space-walked in a suit of the same material.
Although in recent years, San Francisco Fashion Week has found its niche as a liaison between fashion and technology, it is reassuring that this juncture is still a viable opportunity for exposure to designers of many backgrounds, both technically and culturally. Many of the designers work with organic and salvaged materials and make their product by hand, while others run established brands along teams of creative people. The coexistence of Betabrand and, say, Mila Hagan, a fully independent designer, speaks optimistically on the current climate of the city.