Funky, hippie boho, a wee bit of surfer girl, a slight hint of preppy, and homespun with a vintage twist all came to mind as I watched the finale runway show of Martha’s Vineyard Fashion Week. Those same words could be used as well to describe the island which, under the guidance of Trena Morrison, just wrapped up celebrating its second annual Fashion Week.
I am not going to compare MV Fashion Week with Boston, Providence or New York because that simply would not be fair. Trena’s goal is to support the home -grown fashion talent and retailers on the island. If you want “slick” there are plenty of places on the mainland that will appease your taste. This Fashion Week is all about celebrating the spirit of the island community, supporting each other (quite enthusiastically I might add) and giving back. The recipient of the money raised Saturday was the incredible organization, Angel Flight which flies patients and their families, free of charge to medical care.
The finale show was presented on a red carpet at Dreamland in Oak Bluffs. Dreamland is billed as a century old ballroom, but an old photograph I found clearly depicts it as a garage. With the post and beam ceiling and hand painted cloth backdrop, it had a very folksy feel to it. When the gentleman representing Angel Flight asked everyone in the audience to stand, turn around and hug his or her “neighbor”, I was beginning to feel as if I were at a tent revival meeting. Fitting given the locale I suppose.
The backstage area was smaller than small with 12 models ferried over from Dynasty Models in Boston sharing space with even more volunteer models, the 7 designers and retailers showing that evening along with their assistants, and a makeup artist and hair stylist. They made use of every bit of space they could carve out for themselves. Not enough makeup and hair people (honestly, where would they have put them?) caused the models to eventually start doing their own in order to be ready for show time. A rookie mistake that I’m sure Trena and her team will rectify next year and not a big deal for the pros from Boston.
The Dynasty girls appeared to be having a blast. Martha’s Vineyard Fashion Week certainly treated them in style, hiring a limo to drive them from Boston to Woods Hole and putting them up in a large private home in Edgartown. And they in turn, rocked the runway. (I was surprised that MV Fashion Week didn’t feature them more. The local girls were certainly crowd pleasers, but I found it perplexing to go to such effort to bring professional models to the island and not use them to their fullest).
It was fun to see first hand the close relationship these girls have with Joe and Gin Freeman, calling the agency matriarch, “Mama Gin”. Joe was ever the doting dad coming to the rescue when a model left her luggage on the bus from the ferry then again later when she lost her wallet while shopping.
Come to think of it, Joe also came to the rescue of myself and stylist, Terri Mahn of The Stylist Closet when we found ourselves having to share a “party house” in the woods with a couple in their early twenties (the event DJ and her boyfriend) and a reggae band member / house caretaker. The “kids” and caretaker were beyond gracious and welcoming, it’s just that well, we were feeling a little “long in the tooth” to be sharing a dirty, towel less bathroom with complete strangers. I’m sure they were equally horrified when we arrived (three hours late as our cabdriver couldn’t even locate this joint) and wondered how they were going to throw another party that night with the “old broads” in residence.
Needless to say, Joe and Gin scrambled to find new accommodations and saved the day for us, as they apparently do on a regular basis for their girls. We were moved to a lovely hotel on the water in Oak Bluffs within walking distance of Dreamland. And we had clean towels in a bathroom which we did not have to share!
Beautiful early fall weather, a place by the sea, fashion in a variety of incarnations and lovely, enthusiastic, friendly people. It was a vibe as cool as the evening breeze on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Nothing to complain about here!