Fashion Week definitely has a local touch
Published: Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 11:08 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 11:08 p.m.
Francine Elizabeth said she was 4 years old when she debuted in the fashion industry — selling a necklace she’d made herself. By age 7, she was going to sewing camp, and at age 10, she won a national design competition, and her prize was an embroidery machine that allowed her to perfect the art she’s practicing today.
On Saturday night, the petite 20-year-old from Gainesville saw her latest clothing designs worn by models at the runway show during the final night of Gainesville Fashion Week.
“I pretty much design things I would wear,” Elizabeth said, wearing jeans, a T-shirt and flip-flops a couple of hours before the show began. Backstage, she showed the rack of the clothes she designed that the models would be wearing: a lot of dresses in silk — her favorite material to work with. A couple of dresses had collars made out of shiny green beetle wings.
“Apparently a fair trade thing from South America,” she said, adding: “I like being the youngest one here with the biggest statements to make.”
Elizabeth, who turned 20 on Saturday, has showcased her designs in Gainesville’s Fashion Week nearly since it started five years ago.
“We’ve gotten to see her grow as a designer,” said Jennie Clark, the assistant director of Fashion Week.
Clark said the week focuses on local designers, but Macy’s department store and women’s retailer White House Black Market also had clothing in the various runway shows. Most of the nearly 50 models are University of Florida students, but a 15-year-old and a woman in her 30s modeled as well, Clark said.
About 200 people auditioned in February to model — “of all shapes and sizes,” Clark said.
Once models were selected, designers received their photos and information on their height, weight and size. Then the designers chose which models they wanted to model their pieces, Clark explained.
“A lot of designers want to showcase their clothes on average-looking shapes,” Clark said. “So you don’t have to be 6-foot and a hundred pounds.”
Heather Jones, 28, has been modeling for 10 years. She came to UF to study fashion merchandising. An agent spotted her on the runway in Gainesville’s first Fashion Week, and she’s been modeling professionally ever since.
Jones considers clothes “art that we wear every day.” Her own style is eclectic. “I like everything and will wear everything,” she said, showing a sequined bikini top with beads hanging down — designed by Elizabeth, who did the beadwork by hand.
Jones said modeling has taught her patience. “You might think you look ridiculous, but you have to be open and follow (the designers’) instructions,” she said.
Another model, UF senior Ann Durrenberger, an industrial engineering major, auditioned for a spot “on a whim,” said her mother, Sharol Durrenberger, who came for the runway show from Niceville.
“I think she’s having fun,” Sharol Durrenberger said. “She’s always loved clothes.”
Fashion Week is not just about models and clothing designers, though. Local makeup artists and hair stylists also showcased their talents on the models. Mode Salon, Avant Garde, Scissors and Sixth Street Station participated, as well as Sheena Cuccia Artistry and Design.
“There’s definitely talent in Gainesville,” said Albey Coronel, co-producer of Fashion Week.
“We like to engage everybody — you have an artist, student, entrepreneur and model at the same event,” he said.
Contact Kristine Crane at 338-3119, or email@example.com.