Fashion Week founders offer a glimpse behind the curtain
Fashion, by nature, has always pushed social norms. Is there anything that you guys are doing this year, or last year, that wouldn’t have flown ten years ago?
Meghan: Well…our favorite show, this Thursday show, we have drag queens in that. That’s the night we’re planning for the LGBTQ house funds to go to the Arnett House, so that I don’t think would have flown at all. We do do very well with our lingerie show; there are some thongs and there is some pretty sexy stuff. I’ll watch the audience’s faces very carefully.
Elaine: And it’s usually Saturday.
Meghan: It’s actually always Saturday night.
Elaine: It’s tasteful.
Meghan: It’s tasteful.
Elaine: And Meg’s very careful about that. Remember that one year we did have naked, topless…
Meghan: We painted their bodies! They had birds all over their bodies, and then we had these hats designed with birds coming out of them. They did have nude bras and underwear that we painted over…Oh, and we did have a plastic surgeon that wanted to sponsor us, and they came on the runway. One of the patients of the plastic surgery had gone from being a woman to a man. So, he went topless as a man. That was something kind of new. Then the women, I had them painted like they had a black t-shirt on, but they had nothing, and then I put tons and tons and tons of pearls on them, and long black skirts. And people couldn’t tell what they were looking at! They were like, “Is it…? Are they…?”
Elaine: We did paint naked breasts one year though. A couple years ago.
Elaine: That was cool.
Meghan: So that was pushing the envelope. But people liked it.
Do the kids at the center get involved at all?
Elaine: The kids at the center have been involved with some volunteering, but we don’t have kids currently in service on the runway. We cast our shows carefully, so if there was someone who was out of the program and on the other end we might, but we have had them volunteer. They certainly help set up and take down because we are so organic that we still personally set up chairs, set up tables, count chairs, put on table cloths … Part of what we’ve learned is that we’re just sort of better off doing it ourselves.
Meghan: Sometimes it’s just easier to keep it small and keep it tight.
Elaine: Yeah, we know what to expect. We’re very strong. We could probably make a muscle for you [laughs]. We’re not afraid, and we’re not afraid to get dirty. We did make the decision a few years ago not to have anything on Sundays, oh my goodness. We were dragging ourselves. It’s not so much that we’re tired…
Meghan: I was tired.
Elaine: We’re tired. [laughs] I think it’s just so much better for us and we’re still at the tent by nine o’clock on Sunday morning cleaning it up. But we have Meg’s designers and the retail people do all of it for free and many of them, the big retail people, actually sponsor as well.
Meghan: I have what I call my original ten, which are the first ten women that really did a lot of the shows, and then I have done a lot of casting calls and all of the models are local. I don’t outsource, but if I don’t put people in enough shows they are like, “Can you put me in more?” They all call up their fashion week family and they just love being a part of it.
Any helpers that turned out to be not so helpful?
Elaine: What about the woman who had the Spanish-speaking dog?
Meghan: Yeah, you get some crazy people.
Elaine: She was a yapper, and she said, “Don’t you understand? My dog is bilingual!” And I’m like, “huh, well, there’s not a speaking role,” so we had to let her go. There was another dog once that was the scariest dog I have ever seen.
Meghan: Oh yeah, I had to actually not put him in the show.
Elaine: The dog’s head was this big! Meg, that was scary.
Meghan: I know, and I was having a vision of the dog jumping into the crowd. It was like a…
Elaine: Mastiff scary dog, who probably had a sweet personality when he was left alone.
Meghan: No, he was aggressive.
Elaine: He was a scary dude. So, there are no more dogs, but you’ll be happy to know Meg put a horse and a pig on last year. And who knows what’s happening! We never know.