The eighth annual Austin Fashion Week’s first runway and gallery event started off with a bang Thursday evening.
The night started with designers showcasing their products in the gallery and finished with models sporting local designers on the runway.
Nita Dharani of FYU Designs showcased her work. Dharani is from Houston and salvages and makes her jewelry out of vintage stock pieces.
“This is my first time at Austin Fashion Week. I came because Austin is open-minded and small business friendly,” Dharani said. “People always tell me that Austin is the right scene for my jewelry.”
All of the pieces at FYU Designs are handmade by Dharani and she has been selling her designs for a little over a year. She gets the original pieces secondhand at garage sales and on websites like Craigslist and Ebay and transforms them into something new.
“Each piece is inspired by vintage elements and evoke emotion,” Dharani said. “Every piece is like a set of armor. Jewelry allows people to show their personality in a different way.”
Christie Casillo from Coastal Road also made an appearance. Coastal Road is a leather-based brand from the Florida Panhandle. This is Coastal Road’s introduction to AFW and Casillo’s first time in Austin.
Each piece is handmade and each design is digitally printed and embossed into the leather, making each print unique to Coastal Road. Many of the jewelry pieces are made with stainless steel magnetic clasps, so they are easy to get on and off.
The newest prints are the unique Marble Jade and Marble Gray. Casillo’s favorite print in the collection is Midnight Sky.
“I wear lots of grays and blacks which the print goes well with,” Casillo said. “The Midnight Sky clutch is the perfect bag for either day or night.”
Handbag designer Michelle Twite from Nokéo also came to Austin for the show. Twite designs and creates made-to-order bags.
Each of Twite’s bags is leather and incorporates hand-woven fabric from Laos, Thailand. Twite’s parents are from Laos and her grandmother was a weaver.
Each bag is completely customizable and is fun, colorful and authentic. Twite has been selling her bags for about five months.
The runway show began with Kids by Jeffrey Sebelia. Young boys and girls walked the runway in fashion-forward clothes.
Some kids took the runway walking seriously, while others smiled and struck funny poses. Regardless, the audience enjoyed the opener.
Designer Samantha Plasencia had models walk to the beat of modern music such as the rap song “Panda” and had bold, bright and urban designs. The models donned large-framed retro glasses and some of her pieces were made out of Tyvek.
Models strutted the runway in bright, tight outfits with color blocking and animal print to the song “Wild Thing” and old-school hip hop songs during the Plenty FM collection. The collection is filled with color blocking, maxi jumpsuits and cutout designs.
M.E. Shirley had classic yet trendy pieces that came in denim and neutral colors. One interesting piece was a black short-sleeve blazer and none of the pieces were too tight-fitting.
The finale was designer Katie Kime, whose collection is filled with bright colors and unique prints. Models first walked out to a cover of the song “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and some traded their typically stoic faces for smiles.
Kime created two-piece outfits with large matching patterns, which is currently a huge trend. There were also large flashy necklaces adorned with tassels.
This was the first year that AFW is honoring a different “style setter” each night. Thursday honored Laura Craddick and benefitted the Dell Children’s Medical Center. Craddick was wearing a Katie Kime outfit.
Devin Yates is a business professional living in Austin who studied fashion design at the University of Alabama. Yates and Veronica Veloria came to AFW for a girl’s night out.
“Our favorite designer from tonight is Katie Kime. Her designs were filled with vibrant prints, and were Southern and girly,” Yates said. “We had a great time tonight. The show was greater than we expected and we would definitely come again.”