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From Fenway to the Runway: The Standouts of Boston Fashion Week

By Hugh McIntyre

Everyone get your designer purse, put on your littlest black dress, and slide on your heels – it’s Boston Fashion Week!

For the seventeenth year in a row, Boston’s entire fashion community came together to celebrate the accomplishments of designers who are working hard to put Boston on the fashion map. Unlike Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City, BFW focuses solely on designers who are based in the greater Boston area. While some may think the designers’ collections are limited, there is no shortage of talented artists to last the entire week.

Last year, the BFW organizers brought the event to a whole new level by installing a tent, as is done in other cities. This year, The Tent at Boston Fashion Week held runway shows from fifteen different designers, packing all of them into one stylish weekend. While each designer deserved mention, there were a few that stood out this year

SAM MENDOZA

Sam Mendoza may be from Texas, but he has made Boston his own. The designer has been a name in the area for a couple of years now, and it looks as though his streak will continue with his latest collection.

Mendoza’s clothes have always had a certain ease to them, and this has become his signature aesthetic. His Spring/Summer 2013 collection comprised separates that a woman could wear to almost any occasion. Appropriate for work, school, or just going out with friends, the pieces were versatile and wearable for any destination. He often used texture, and his color palette was fairly basic, featuring blacks, whites, various shades of grey, and a lovely toffee color. After six black pieces in a row, he surprised the audience at the end of the show with color. The models displayed dresses in dark periwinkle, hot pink, and a purple that carried a certain sheen to it.

While many designers do everything in their power to avoid being plain, Mendoza embraces simplicity. One of his most frequently used fabrics – jersey – replaces something more mature. He even uses cinch-ties like those on a backpack or sleeping bag as belts for dresses.

His low-key aesthetic has made Sam Mendoza a local favorite. The effortlessness that his garments carry is his calling card, and while you might not be able to pick his designs out of a crowd, they appeal to a wide audience. Mendoza is setting himself up for future success.

FIRAS YOUSIF

Firas Yousif just might be the hardest working designer in Boston. While most designers will show somewhere between twelve and twenty looks during their runway shows, Yousif sent out forty-seven different looks. Actually, he had what could be called three separate shows, all at the same time. Yousif made clear to the audience that one collection had finished and another had begun by dimming the lights and changing the music with each new collection.

There were a few themes and ideas introduced in the first section. Yousif opened with spring dresses in a colorful updated retro plaid. Next came a number of garments – tops, pants, and dresses – all in glittering, pastel fabrics.

The last seven dresses in the first section of his show were where Yousif’s fun factor was at its highest. Silks in tropical hues appeared to have Asian prints on them: only later did Yousif reveal that not only were the silks vintage and one of a kind, but the patterns on them were hand-embroidered. While the Asian influence was a surprise, it was simply too much to ignore.

The second section of the collection showed Yousif’s best work: evening wear and bridal gowns. Yousif puts a lot of thought into what he makes, and each dress varied dramatically from the next. There was something for everyone: Yousif took a bold chance in showing some of his garments on older models. While not commonly used in the fashion world, this approach actually made a lot of sense for Yousif. He was displaying the clothes on the kind of woman who would actually wear them; the elder model strolled out wearing a beautiful full-length mother-of-the-bride design.

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