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Davis, California

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Runways, sketches and parties

Long legs strut down a walkway as photographers flash pictures of models and designers beam with smiles as their new fashions are on display. Yep, it’s that time of year again — the latest styles emerge with spring around the corner. What you may not know is that the Sac Fashion Week creates many opportunities for students right here at UC Davis.

Sacramento Fashion Week, which takes place from Feb. 24 to March 2, features 18 designers, six boutiques, a film on fashion exhibition, three workshops and a number of stylish parties. Originally launched in the spring of 2006, it launches designers and models into the fashion business and links entrepreneurs, makeup artists, photographers, advertising companies, hair stylists and many more.

Duane Ram, executive director of Sac Fashion Week, says that he and his team usually start planning almost a year in advance.

“You can’t come out to put on a full week’s schedule right off the bat,” Ram said. “In the early years we had a launch party and then a fashion show which in all took less than a month to produce. With a full week it can take up to a full year. We usually take a month off to recoup and then we start the planning. [By] November … we pretty much [work] full time on the production.”

Jillian Walke, a first-year design major at UC Davis, has never been to a professional fashion show before but wants to check out Sac Fashion Week.

“I like to learn and combine different elements from a variety of designers, so SFW would be a fabulous opportunity to observe many different styles and trends from plenty of designers,” Walke said.

Any designer, established or aspiring, can submit their work via sacfashionweek.com by submitting a letter of intent, a biography, a professional profile headshot, sketches and a press kit.

Although Ram said that designers of any age can submit work, the team working behind the scenes at Sac Fashion Week does look for professionalism and talent.

“I’ve never put an age limit for designers; however, we want to make sure that the designers are able to produce a full collection. If you send stick figures we are not gonna take you seriously. A featured designer [must] submit sketches and [a] storyboard for [their] collection,” Ram said.

Ram moved to the larger Sacramento area in 2005 and noticed that the fashion scene was pretty small, and that there were no large-scale events to showcase fashion.

“Everything was done in clubs and bars. Not that these venues were bad, it just wasn’t showcasing the designers very well. We have a lot of historic buildings and beautiful ballrooms that really highlight the city. Showcasing our designers there would be a benefit to everyone,” Ram said.

Sac Fashion Week works with the larger Sacramento area’s businesses and also aims to help college students build connections in fashion design, merchandising, public relations, creative design, photography, videography, event coordination, staging and lighting, modeling, advertising, journalism and more.

This includes opportunities for students like Annie Dick, a third-year dramatic arts major. Dick works as the head costume designer for a class she currently takes and believes studying fashion helps her with costume design.

“As a costume designer, it’s important to keep up with the latest fashion trends because you never know what kind of character you will be dressing on stage,” Dick said.

As someone who aspires to attend a special-effects makeup school one day, she would love to attend Sac Fashion Week.

“Makeup design is a passion of mine,” Dick said.

Sac Fashion Week transforms aspiring makeup artists, designers and models into individuals with experience in the business, according to Ram.

“We are preparing you for the ‘real world.’ If you want to showcase in New York Fashion Week you have to be ready. This is not a show just for your friends and family; it’s a business,” Ram said. “My goal is to get you the exposure and put you in front of important people. [For a designer], you must present a full collection of what you can do and hopefully sell those pieces.”

Walke agrees that for a designer to be successful, they must have a distinctive style.

“A designer needs to have a unique perception of design, and needs to be creative and innovative. Too many of the fashions we see on the market today are just a copy of the next designer’s collections, so a designer should want to bring something totally revolutionary to the table,” Walke said.

A large number of top-notch experienced fashion workers participate each year to present revolutionary designs like Walke mentions.

“[This year] we have about five core staff and about 30 interns. In all there are 16 designers with two assistants, six boutiques with two assistants. [We also have a] hair and makeup crew of about 30, staging crew of about 10 and about 100 models per day,” Ram said.

Together, everyone works to host a lunch party and fashion affair, a fashion forum, a runway modeling 101 workshop, a “social gone vogue” workshop, a hair and makeup workshop, a fashion on film workshop, a boutique show, two sets of designer showcases, VIP galas and official afterparties.

While the boutique became the first event to sell out this year, Ram says the Saturday showcase is the most popular.

Ram said that for him the most rewarding part about Sac Fashion Week is the fact that so many people have come out to support the show.

“In the past, I’ve always relied on ticket sales because we had a hard time finding sponsors. We didn’t have anything to show them and at the time the economy was down and money was tight,” Ram said.

However, despite the tough economy, Ram has always believed in the show and persevered. Today, ticket sales have improved and Sacramento’s interest in fashion is growing.

“Ticket sales are always slow in the beginning and I’m always worried that we would have an empty house. So it’s a good feeling to know that the community was supportive of the production,” Ram said.

ALYSSA KUHLMAN can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

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