Friday, June 6, 2014

Runway Re-hash: Reliving DRAUMA and the AFM Finale Show

Two grand events made the month of April so awesome that the Alternative Fashion Mob, along with fans all over the city, are still gabbing about it. If you've ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at these larger-than-life events, here's a recap from a model's perspective!

On April 19th, DRAUMA returned for their annual showcase of head-turning creations. A week later, the Alternative Fashion Week Finale Show gave another sartorial thrill. Having been lucky enough to model for DRAUMA and the AFM Finale two years in a row, I’ve become accustomed to the backstage mania and all it entails. 

Clothing: Trulie Scrumptious (Photo by Zombie Tapdance)

DRAUMA is a fusion of many things. It is a synthesis of art forms and of people. Those who attend DRAUMA wear their identities on their sleeves with every action, from style to behavior. They push the envelope on a daily basis, and one night a year, they celebrate their vastly unique perspectives. From wearable ensembles to avant garde hair and makeup and sometimes minimal fabric –  fashion, music and art came together at DRAUMA for an evening of arresting sights!

One of the most fun things about DRAUMA is that what I view behind the scenes is pretty much what the audience sees once models take to the runway. Girls and guys prancing about in glitter and body paint? Check. Women baring their chests in varying degrees of coverage (i.e. strategically placed waist length hair)? Seen it. Confetti, papier mache, latex, lace, chains, duct tape... Name a material, and chances are it’s been used for some aspect of a DRAUMA look. 

Look 1: Josie Wills (Photo by Shadow Services Photography); Look 2: Josie Wills (Photo by Jim Sanders Photography); Look 3: Green Fashion Designs (Photo by Shadow Services Photography)

But the fun isn’t relegated solely to cat-walkers! Attendees dress to impress in a range of creative get-ups that include stand-out pieces of their own. DRAUMA draws the most diverse pack of humans you’ll ever see and, as a model, I love that people come to the show in anticipation both of what they’ll be entertained with and what they can show off. If I love modeling enough to have had dead butterfly wings glued to my eyes, had my entire body coated in sparkles and laboriously washed out teased hair more times than I can remember, I appreciate when those coming to a show are just as stoked to get fancy, whatever that definition of fancy may be.

This year, DRAUMA also served as the kickoff to Alternative Fashion Week’s second year. Following DRAUMA, a full week of events made up AFW14, culminating in the Grand Finale Show on April 26th. Highlighting 18 local designers, the show paid homage to the array of aesthetics encompassed in this city’s fashion mavens. A handful of the designers were veterans from last year’s inaugural show, but the majority of the collections stemmed from designers who were new to the Alternative Fashion Mob game. Throwing themselves into the madness, the pieces they toiled over took center stage at the finale show, and it was definitely a show to remember!

My stunning outfits - Look 1: Katelyn McClain Designs (Photo by Sen Bai); Look 2: Malvart = Stewart (Photo by Troy Mueller); Look 3: Lydia Hopmann (Photo by Sen Bai); Look 4: Esther Hall (Photo by Sen Bai)

This time around, I walked for four collections, which allowed me to don a beautiful assortment of looks. Fringe leggings and a hand-knit vest gave way to a painstakingly felted, hand-dyed wool and silk gown. If those looks weren’t a lesson in time-intensity, I was then clothed in a skirt and crop top made of patterned contact paper and super glue. I rounded out my runway time with an asymmetrical lace dress worn over shorts with a long vest.

Seeing AFM’s finale show both this and last year, the growth I witnessed was a sight to behold. This year’s show expanded the number of featured designers, which in turn meant more models, hair and makeup stylists. And though the rooms backstage were a bit tighter, that closeness led me to observe the tremendous talent around me. One collection used hair pieces in lieu of fabric and another used heavy upholstery for the most adorable crop top. A personal favorite of mine used rigid neon fabric to form modern street wear looks. 

Look 1: Synthetic Rebellion (Photo by Kris Misevski); Look 2: Oliver P. Zhang (Photo by Sen Bai); Look 3: Caroll + Cleo (Photo by Kris Misevski)

The pay-off for AFM’s Finale show is tough to put into words. For me, the connections I’ve made with both old and new friends and acquaintances are incomparable. The long hours of rehearsals and the adrenaline of outfit changes – it’s all worth it. There is no bigger satisfaction than commanding everyone’s attention, having cameras flash at the end of the runway, and subsequently being enveloped with kind words and hugs once the show is over.

Anyone involved in these types of events can identify with that odd combination of tired elation. At the end of the night, knowing you helped bring a designer’s vision to life is everything I live for. Energized and exhausted – that’s how I want to leave every show. DRAUMA and the AFM Finale were no exception, and that’s what will keep me coming back for more.

- Michaela Neu
Model and Alt Fashion Blogger

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