It's going to be more than big stuffy hats and bow ties when 18 talented designers get their hands on seersucker, bold colors, history books and some of the hottest bods around. This year's West 18th Street Fashion Show celebrates a Triple Crown Summer and looks to tell powerful visual tales of all things horse racing.Three of the designers selected from the 65-applicant pool took The Pitch inside their creative journeys, which began when they learned of the horse-racing theme — and culminate when their collections hit the outdoor runway at 8 p.m.
Method: Shomari Benton and David Lloyd, the duo behind Method (a dapper-making local men's boutique that opened in 2010), were working on a clothing line in conjunction with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum when they learned that they had made the West 18th Street cut. As they researched horse racing's late-1800s roots, they discovered a tie to the museum project: African-American jockeys won 15 of the first 28 Kentucky Derby races before disappearing from the sport and turning to such opportunities as Negro Leagues Baseball. Method's collection for its first West 18th Street show honors those early athletes with bright red and baby-blue sporty looks featuring seersucker and loud plaids.
Tara Kloeppel: "I kept dreaming of these really detailed, immaculate white looks, covered in horses," West 18th Street veteran designer Kloeppel says of the days leading up to this year's theme announcement. A self-proclaimed all-around fashion maven who's in the process of launching a retail website, Kloeppel combines the visions with racing research. She describes the result as ultra-feminine, super-floral and a little bit country. Expect to see beading, pompoms and embroidery. Oh, and a stallion or two.
Andrea Long and Margie Hogue: Long burst into tears when she and design partner Margie Hogue received their first West 18th Street nod this spring. The honor marks a big break for the recent college graduates, who have worked under some of the most recognizable names in local fashion. They make their debut, they say, by telling a visual story of the style and culture surrounding the Triple Crown. Think equestrian-inspired leather mixed with a Southern-style staple: lace. "It's all very sexy and body-flattering," Long says. "They're looks that someone with a little extra oomph would wear — someone with a little extra charm."