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The Scarlet & Black

DSM Fashion Week showcases Iowa talent



By Carter Howe

Elevated style will be coming to Des Moines on Sept. 21 in the form of the first ever Des Moines (DSM) Fashion Week, a three-day event featuring designers from the Midwest and even New York and Los Angeles. Although Grinnellians may recognize the name DSM Fashion Week from The Onion’s headlines, the week’s real life proceedings are assuredly not a joke.

The event will feature a wide range of styles and designers such as menswear designer Christian Micheal Shuster from Kansas City, avant-garde designer Dan Richters from Omaha, Italian handbag designer Massimiliano Stanco and contemporary womenswear designer Dalton Taylor from New York City. In addition, the show will feature pieces from many self-taught designers and fashion students, such as Kate Walz, a 19-year-old student at Parsons: The New School for Design in New York City and Amber Vokt, a self-taught womenswear designer who makes clothing from recycled fabrics.

Photographer, designer and executive producer of the event Camille Renee predicts that DSM Fashion Week will be an elegant cultural celebration for the people of Des Moines.

“We’re having appetizers and hors d’oeuvres and drinks and just really celebrating fashion on a high-end scale that Des Moines deserves,” Renee said.

In addition to fashion, DSM Fashion Week will feature local musicians and chefs. The second night of the event will feature a performance from jazz singer Max Wellman, a house musician at classy Des Moines jazz cabaret, Noce. The final night of the event will be held at presenting sponsor Splash Seafood Bar and Grill, an upscale seafood restaurant run by locally-renowned restaurateur Bruce Gerleman, where executive chef and Iowa Restaurant Association 2014 Chef of the Year Dominic Iannarelli will prepare a five course meal.

“Not only are we celebrating local designers but we’re also just really opening the door for designers of all different types of genres from different cities coming to Des Moines to celebrate it at Splash,” Renee said.

“We really want it to be edgy and modern, showcasing sophistication in Des Moines,” Renee said. “We have refined fashion from boutiques in the East Village.”

The show will also feature the work of high-end designer Christian Michael Shuster.

“[He] designs menswear and is really fun and sporty and a little bit preppy,” Renee said. “Closing the show will be Dalton Taylor who is this amazing designer from New York. He designs dresses and street-wear.”

DSM Fashion Week’s choice to use models of all different body types and levels of experience is another aspect of its openness. “We’re not really of all the same body type as of a New York or a Milan or a Paris fashion show. … Here in Des Moines, we’re really welcoming women and men of all different sizes … that’s one thing that really makes us different is that we are open to all different types of people, and it’s not so high-end that we expect them to be stick-thin and you know [how] to runway and only come from a talent agency,” Renee said.

Renee also said that some of the models will be students and athletes from Iowa State.

In the end, though, Renee said that DSM Fashion Week is really about showing that despite its size and location, Des Moines is a sophisticated, fun city to live in.

“[When people say] I can’t live in Iowa, I have to go to New York, that’s not true. I mean Des Moines is a really awesome place to live, not only is it affordable but there are so many things to do in Des Moines,” Renee said. 

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