Paint the Runway Purple is a fundraising fashion show which provides paying opportunities for emerging fashion designers, models, hair and makeup artists, photographers, and production staff. The show brings exposure to local businesses to connect to their local demographics through sponsorship.
I had the chance to meet a true gem of a person at the show, Desi Allinger-Nelson, creator of Paint the Runway Purple. I can’t begin to describe how warm and inviting Desi was, and how truly supportive she is of the local fashion industry. Everyone we spoke to talked about her generosity, how much she positively encouraged those around her and how incredibly accommodating she is. I felt so honored to be in her presence have the opportunity to support her fashion show.
Desi wanted to bring the show back to its roots, particularly, what was called Press Week before it molded into Fashion Week. She invited local fashion bloggers (myself included) to meet the designers before the show as they presented their pieces before the public debut.
Sundari Franklin of The Tattered Tailor, was the first to present her designs to us. She is all about the draping and her designs were so intricate and absolutely gorgeous. She creates up-cycled vintage pieces such as dresses, cowboy boots, and flower crowns. She also creates wedding, bridesmaid and mother of the bride custom dresses. Her designs range from a size 2 to a size 26 and she just started working on a men’s collection. She has been designing since she was 17 year old but has been more actively designing for the past two years. She wants her garments to be unique to each individual, and every piece is one of a kind.
Christina Smith of Celestial Designs, is a 16-year old fashion phenom. She is a senior who is home-schooled, graduating early and completing occupational education, with the fashion show being her final. She started off designing clothes for her dolls and at age 12, started designing clothes for people (what the heck was I doing with my life at age 12, let alone age 16?). Christina creates both rough and digital sketches, buys fabric from Joann’s and makes all the dresses herself.
Judee Moonbeam of Judee Moonbeam Studio, got her start in fibre art, presenting her work at art shows and festivals. This is her first real foray into the fashion world, and I’m certainly glad she decided to head in this direction! She reclaims fabric in a way that you don’t realize its reclaimed, creating bold and colorful asymmetrical dresses, skirts, purses and jumpers. She also wears many hats as she teaches at an art camp, teaches Islamic art and teaches children how to sew!
Paul Treichler of Whirly Dog Supplies, creates Ready-To-Wear and couture fashion for dogs. Desi met him at a farmer’s market and the rest is history. Paul started creating his designs 7 years ago after him and his partner adopted a Maltese rescued from a puppy mill. They had to shave the fur and the puppy was always cold so Paul made a sweater for him. Today, Paul makes designs for dogs of all sizes, and does made-to-order for larger dogs. He creates hoodies, pajamas, fleece, summer shirts, onesies, bandanas, you name it!
Rachel Rischiotto of Butterfliez and Diamondz is another 16 year old high school sophomore, already designing beautiful outfits! What on earth was I doing at age 16??? Rachel was also born with Arthrogryposis, which severely affects her joints and causes her to have to use a wheelchair and a walker. She is also a leukemia survivor!!! She started designing in sixth grade and while she cannot cut or sew, she can draw, and her design sketches are absolutely beautiful. Michelle Lesniak is her favorite designer and all of her inspirations came from her grandma’s garden. While she doesn’t have a website yet, you can find her on Instagram, @AngelGlam101.
Last but not least, Desi brought our her Ready-to-Wear denim collection. While she was in fashion design school, she had sketched out all the designs and decided it was time to get them on the runway. Her attention to detail and her artistic work was impeccable. She bleached and spray painted the jeggings herself, added custom buttons onto the pants, added lace imported from France, used zippers from the 70’s (she says they are made better and don’t break like the cheap zippers made today – I can attest to that) as accents and even hand painted flowers on one of the skirts. The jewelry the models wore were from Robin’s Nest and Lefty Production Co. did all of the manufacturing.
After the designers finished showing their pieces to the press, we were treated to a delicious dinner with everyone involved in the show! Polly and I had a chance to chat with a couple of the models and they were so excited to be involved with the runway show and support Desi.
The fashion show began with an amazing dance number to Madonna’s hit song, Music, and Mrs. Oregon United States 2016, Lori McNeil as the M/C for the evening.
Desi went on stage and talked to the audience about what the show meant to her and mentioned that 80% of the sponsors were women-owned businesses. Hair and makeup artists were from Phagans School, which drew a huge applause, as HMUA’s are often overlooked during fashion shows (kudos again to Desi for calling out their amazing work). Recording artist Lovey James sang while models strutted the runway and you truly just felt the love throughout the entire show.
Next year’s Paint the Runway Purple will be held at the Maryhill Museum of Art in Goldendale, WA….outside under the stars. I can’t wait, mark your calendars for June 2018!
Lesley is the founder and editor of What’s Up NW. Prior to creating WhatsUpNW.com, she was the Seattle city editor for AskMissA.com. For both publications, Lesley has covered fashion shows, openings, and local charity events. She has written numerous articles shining the light on local businesses, encouraging readers to always shop local.