Last Night: Project: Design! at Contemporary Art Museum

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What You Missed: St. Louis Fashion Week's Project: Design! at the Contemporary Art Museum, 3750 Washington Avenue.

Better Than: A lineup of sorority girls getting ready to hit the clubs.

St. Louis Fashion Week began its fourth season last night with Project: Design! at the Contemporary Art Museum. Designers included REIGN by Paul Gibson, Mella Y, Trashbiscuit, Shan Keith Designs, Re.construct D>estruction, Eyekon, Yani Co., and a Goodwill fashion show. This was only the beginning for the fashion-starved of the Midwest.

As with everything every four years, fashion has become increasingly political and socially aware. As soon visitors walked in the museum's doors, they were greeted by an Art the Vote volunteer to register to vote. U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan was in the house but thankfully I was not subjected to a speech.

Slide Show

Ameren UE's P.U.R.E. Genius, a local renewable energy program, was the next up in the gauntlet of causes. The fashion show was powered by wind from Missouri's first wind farm in King City.

Visitors could duck their way into the main room and get a drink, choosing from a variety of flavored waters. Borba, a sponsor of fashion week, had four different flavors, but it was more complicated than that. Pomegranate water for breakout and cleansing, Acai to fight the sign of aging, a firming flavor called Guanabanna and Lychee, a skin-hydrating flavor. I decided to stick with Pomegranate. At least I knew that word, sometimes a girl just needs a stiff anti-breakout shot of water.

Slide Show

The museum was packed like a nightclub, with a DJ playing a selection of club mixes and mini-bars set up in the usual exhibition spaces. Spotlights swirled designs over the walls and a blue and green galactic scene was projected the ceiling. Women, most of them in short dresses and boots, milled around with their martinis, showing off their latest purchases.

The show finally started and Dwight Carter, the creator of PROJECT: DESIGN!, dedicated their show to the late Shawn Williams, a 23-year -old designer of Re.construct>D and part of the collaborative design team Eyekon. Williams died on September 28 when he was hit by a car outside of Lush nightclub on Olive. "He was the only person who has cooler hair than I do," Carter says.

The models had attitude and many of them were above size zero. Trashbiscuit showcased a piece where two gold guns were attached at the model's breasts and pointing outward.

Shan Keith Designs' runway show was full of ready-to-wear pieces, but they weren't fitted well to the models, which was distracting.

Shawn Williams' Re.construct D>estruction line was the most impressive and fashion-forward of the group. Black lace covered the eyes and foreheads of many of the models and a Grecian style, full-length bubble dress made of silver metallic material was the most stunning on the runway.

The show ended with a poignant moment, as many of Willams' friends held a picture of the designer. They wiped away tears as the walked off stage.

While there was an abundance of glitter, metallic material and denim, there were a few rare designs that the audience craved, including a bright orange, short sheath dress with a button that said "OMG" on it. I think it was calling my name, or perhaps just my credit card.

Fall Fashion Week continues through Saturday.

- Jami L. Oetting

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