I was skeptical before I interviewed Little Rock Fashion Week
founder and organizer Brandon Campbell. Not just because Little Rock and Fashion Week sound incongruous, but also because it’s late June, the event is slated for mid-August and the Little Rock Fashion Week website
was, at least before my interview, pretty much vacant (there are a few details now). Campbell tried to cure my skepticism by giving me a rundown of his vision. It’s a big idea and his passion is obvious, but we’ll just have to wait and see if Little Rock’s first Fashion Week will sink or swim.
—Stacey BowersWhen you hear Fashion Week, most people think New York, Paris, Milan. Little Rock doesn’t seem to fit.
Why Little Rock? Because it’s a place that still has that grassroots type of hype. It’s that fresh, that newness. Over just the past few years in Little Rock this industry has exploded, a lot of it on the shoulders of Danielle Evans who won “America’s Next Top Model,” and then you got Korto Momolu, runner up for “Project Runway” a year or two ago. It’s like rebirth in the city. Everybody is up. Everybody is ready. I mean there is a thirst for fashion. People want to be involved. People want to learn how to design. People want to be models. People have gone to school to improve their skills in photography. People have learned how to walk a catwalk. People are now making up their own jewelry lines.
When you think of like New York, Milan, and L.A. and all these major cities there’s something that’s missing. It’s a freshness. New York and all these places, they’ve been there and done that, and it’s very corporate. It’s great — I’ve worked on a few of them — but it’s not really about the people anymore. It’s not about the designers anymore. When you think of the title Little Rock Fashion Week, the first two words are Little Rock. What does that mean? It means that it’s ours. It’s something that we can grab a hold of and we can take pride in. I think we’re the best-kept secret in the fashion industry. We’re something that people don’t know about yet, but give it time.
In the not-so-fashion-oriented South, why do you think Little Rock will embrace this very metropolitan idea of a Fashion Week?
I haven’t even really gone full promotion yet. All you see is the website. You will be amazed at the amount of attention it has garnered in the past couple of weeks. People have hit me up on all my emails. I don’t even know how they got all my emails. I have people, I have designers, I have photographers, people contacting me from Colorado, Texas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kentucky. They are telling me “I will move to Little Rock to be a part of this.” For Little Rock to be one of the last places, major metropolitans to have a fashion week, they know it’s big. You’ll be surprised how many publicists and celebrities have hit me up wanting to be a part of this event. I could tell you fifteen different celebrities right now. Your website says that Little Rock fashion week will merge fashion with entertainment. Can you give us specifics? Designers? Musicians?
Right now we are still going through the piles of submissions — a lot of people have submitted. As of right now I cannot tell you exactly who’s going to be a part of this, but we have a lovely list of names. Also, just to give you an idea of the events to take place, Fashion Week will begin August 12 with the VIP launch party at On The Rocks.
The media will be invited. Local celebrities will be invited. You know, come down and meet the models, come down and meet the staff of Little Rock Fashion Week. We want to invite the mayor. We want the governor to come down, too. The public is invited. It’s not a private party, but it’s also a mingling party where people can come and get close to the local designers.
Then on the 13th is the boutique fashion experience, which will feature boutiques from the Central Arkansas area. Then on the 14th we have the Little Rock Fashion Week urban experience at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. It will feature designers that specialize in urban fashion. It’ll be hosted by Power 92’s Pamela “Peazy Baby” Burnett.
We’ll have musical guests during that time as well. Then we’ll have an after party for the urban experience.
Then on the 15th is the huge experience. That’s when you’re going to have celebrity arrivals. You’re going to have the celebrity emcee come down. Then after that will be a big finale celebration where we’ll give out a couple of awards. What’s your background and what got you interested in fashion and what gave you the idea for the Little Rock Fashion Week?
I’m born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, by a single mother of five. I went to Central High School. Then, I moved to New York where I worked for Nickelodeon, and then Fox News, believe if or not. I then moved to L.A. In 2006 I was one of the producers on Style Network.
Then, I was cleaning up my home and it’s like a light bulb just went off in my head. Ding! It was a force. It was bigger than any intuition I’ve ever had in my life. It shook me. It was like, “Wow, OK, this is what I need to do: Brandon, you’re going to bring fashion week to Little Rock.” This is my dream. My dream was always to go out and make those connections, learn the business, become a better producer and writer, observe, learn from some of the best minds, and now it’s time to come to Little Rock and bring Fashion Week to this city.
I don’t think I would be anything if it wasn’t for me being from Little Rock. If Fashion Week is a success, what other types of events like it can you see happening here? Will there be a spring Fashion Week?
As of right now I want to focus on making this experience massive. My vision is shutting President Clinton Avenue all the way from Scott Street to Main Street with a huge red carpet like the Oscars. All the local celebrities come in. All the designers show up in their limos. And you’ve got the media there interviewing them. You got the fans going crazy. You got all the national and international celebrities coming through as well. That’s the vision, and I think this right here is a good start