Things to do in Sacramento and Beyond

The Bee's guide to events, activities, arts and entertainment

March 31, 2008
'Imagine,' a closer look, plus a slide show

Florence Low/

Looking back at Friday night's fashion show at the Crest Theatre, it's amazing to me that more than 900 folks care enough about the local fashion scene to support a show that, obviously, was a labor of love for those involved.

Didn't make it? No worries. Check out Bee photographer Florence Low's multimedia presentation here.

The show was titled "Imagine: Where Fashion, Music & Art Unite." It was a first for the almost year-old International Academy of Design & Technology. It showcased both established Sacramento designers - Richard Hallmarq, Tomiko Abella (designs pictured above), Steven Willey and Dee Aguilar - plus the first collections from a number of the Sacramento design school's students.

(For more info about IADT, click here.)

I got lucky and was seated next to school president Melody Rider, who cheered each of her students' offerings. Rider got the school up and running last May, so it's to her credit - and fashion department chair Denise Reed - that almost 30 designers were "seasoned" enough to put together collections this fast.

Last fall, some of them didn't even know how to sew!

The individual collections had different names and themes - all focused on looks for spring and summer.

For example, designers Melisa Celestial and Naomi Persinger's "Seaside Celebrations" was all about the beach: natural cottons, warm colors. The clothes made you forget how cold it was outside in Sacramento!

Student Jeremiah Hill has been designing for less than a year. His first collection, titled "Asian Knight," featured flirty dresses and a multi-tiered skirt I would have purchased on the spot. Hill paired it nicely with a satin and metallic bandeau top.

Meanwhile, major props to both Abella and Aguilar, who continue to grow as established designers. Abella's "Romantica" segment offered an incredible mix of ruffles, lace and detailed beading in her flamenco-inspired fashions. Aguilar got her inspiration from old Hollywood films. And her designs were pure elegance, from a white sequin dress reminiscent of the 1960s to leggings and a simple fitted top.

The show was hosted by Naima Mora, Season 4 winner of "America's Next Top Model." She did a nice job, considering the number of designers she had to introduce (even when the order changed). Her energy (and beauty) on stage makes you realize why she won that title.

And keynote speaker Jack Mackenroth, from "Project Runway," was pretty entertaining, especially his slide show of pics from his stint on the show, including some of eventual winner Christian Sirano mugging for the camera.

Finally, Hallmarq's show-ending segment featured multiple celebs, including a stunning Nyabel Lual, one of the most exotic models on the planet. Musical artist Carmen Xtravaganza wowed as the models, sporting floor-length ponytails, presented Hallmarq's collection, simply titled "X."

DJs Billy Steele and SpekrFreks were outstanding with the musical accompaniments. And I loved the performance by musical guest Armstrong Jr.

Also seated up front was Tom McNamara, the vice president of Start-Ups for IADT in Chicago. He flew in from the mother ship for the local school's first show and was very impressed, he says, with the level of talent the students already had achieved.

Did I love everything I saw? No. But overall, the younger, more youthful looks certainly can work for the 20-somethings who can pull it off. And if you have a good fashion imagination, it's easy to see how the separates could find their way into many different wardrobes - including my own!

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