All photos by Brian Chilson.
Little Rock Fashion Week Couture Show
Aug. 15, Statehouse Convention Center
6:05 pm: I was jogging down President Clinton Ave., five minutes late to Little Rock Fashion Week’s finale, the couture show. 7:30 pm: I’d bonded with the woman sitting next to me over our mutual frustration that, due to an unknown backstage glitch, the show hadn’t begun. We traded snarky remarks and rubbed elbows — literally. Despite the vast auditorium of the Statehouse Convention Center, an audience of no more than two hundred people was crammed absolutely shoulder to shoulder in chairs that were so close to each other legs were practically tangled.
Finally, nearly two hours after the intended starting time, the lights dimmed and the show began, only to pause for a fifteen minute intermission after only the fourth clothing line was revealed. At this point, I wondered what I’d do for my fifteen minute intermission, seeing as the only refreshment the $40 to $60 tickets bought came from two large jugs of water on the back row. I suppose it’d be too much to ask for even a Ritz cracker to nibble at a fashion show.
When the lights dimmed again, MTV newsman Sway took the stage, immediately and shamelessly telling all of us to watch MTV and explaining how good Dillard’s had treated him by providing his awesome Wallabee shoes and telling all the young men in the audience to get to the nearest Dillard’s and buy some quick.
Aside from a few split seams and an abundance of panty lines, the clothing lines were legit. One designer in particular, Mike Stallings of New York City, stole the show with a line of futuristic, seemingly Lady Gaga inspired, mirrored garments and glasses.
I was excited each time hosts Sway Calloway and Beth Hunt stopped bantering and promoting and finally let another line of garments be shown, but, as with all fashion shows, the models and garments are onstage and off again almost before you can blink.
It wasn’t the ratio of filler to fashion you’d hope for, and by the time the hosts announced that the end was drawing near, butts started shifting in chairs with anticipation all over the auditorium. Organizer Brandon Campbell took the stage to give Little Rock a big thank you and also to thank the supposed designers from all over the country, who came because they “understand the magnitude of this historic event.” But, before sending the over 21 audience across the street to the after party at On The Rocks and sending those under 21 who had paid the same ticket price home, he thanked the models. And the sponsors, one by one. And his family, every member individually. And his staff, offering each of their biographies. And the make-up artists, telling each to come to the stage. And the hair stylists, who also came to the stage one by one. And his pamphlet designer. And each of the entertainers from the previous evenings. And the hosts. And the car service that picked Sway up from the airport. By this time the audience had slowly filed its way out of the auditorium almost completely to breathe the outside air for the first time in four hours.