Lehigh Valley Fashion Week

A sea of flashes crashed onto the walkway like waves on a beach. The wires for lighting like seaweed tangled upon the shore. The corals, sea foam blues, and bright motifs gracing the runway mimicked the tropics. And soon even swimsuits appeared during Lehigh Valley Fashion Week.

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Season 2 of Lehigh Valley Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2016 (S/S 2016) took place at the Holiday Inn Center City in Allentown. The event consisted of two main showcases:

Friday, April 29th The Premier Night: Couture and ready-made collections (all images from this night)

Saturday, April 30th The Finale Night: Urban Collections

Other events included: A Networking Event (4/28), Red Shoe Charity Luncheon and Fashion Show and Style Beauty Lounge‘s Trunk Show (4/29).

Before we dive into the fabulous designers, let’s learn more about Lehigh Valley Fashion Week’s background and history.

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Lehigh Valley Fashion Week (LVFW) is an organization seeking to highlight the fashion industry here in the Valley (Allentown, Easton, and Bethlehem). They look to collaborate with thrift/consignment shops and local designers in the area. This creates a great scope of ready-made looks and newly designed garments at varying price points. Per their site, fashion week events are celebrated globally and are the number one medium to promote the work of designers and crafters.

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LVFW is a bi-yearly event with a fall/winter show (August) and a spring/summer show (April). Season 1 was held last year and was sponsored by another Allentown venue, the Renaissance Hotel.

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I followed up with LVFW after The Premier Night to find out more:

1. I see designers and models can sign-up. What criteria do you use to choose the designers/shop/boutiques applicants, or do most that apply make it on the runway? 

It depends on what our theme is for that fashion week, and quality of the designs.

2. Same question about the models, just because they sign up are they participants?

Models are picked based on their walk, but the designers are the ultimate picker of the models.

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3. “Fashion is always here and you will always wear it” is a quote that acts like LVFW’s tagline. Can you elaborate on this quote?

Our quote means fashion is going to be around always, no matter what your style is.  Fashion is a reflection of style, and everyone has their own style.

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4. What kind of feedback did you receive from Season 1 of LVFW that you took when preparing Season 2?

We received feedback on our lighting and we used white lights instead of the colorful lights from last year.

When asked what we can expect from Season 3, LVFW simply said, “It’s a surprise.”

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Now onto the fashion! Playing it local, we also interviewed Lehigh Valley native Jana Nieves, Designer/Co-Owner of Bel Bête who participated in the Red Show BW Nice Lehigh Valley Luncheon & Fashion Show (4/29). This show kicked off Lehigh Valley Fashion Week.

Bel Bête’s mission is to Bring out the Beast as their website states:

Bel Bête LLC. Bel is a play on the french word “Belle” meaning Beautiful and Bête meaning beast. Everyone has a Beast. It is the part of us that pushes us to toward our dreams and to be ourselves unapologetically. That is beauty, it’s our inspiration and we design with this in mind.

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(Images from Bel Bête’s Instagram)

1. Are you originally from the Lehigh Valley? 

Yes, we have always been Valley natives. Center City Allentown.

2. Bel Bijoux and Bel Bête LLC – what is the difference between these sister companies?

We started out as Bel Bijoux, only doing coats and selected apparel for pets. We transitioned into Bel Bête after last year’s Lehigh Valley Fashion Week where we premiered designs for both people and pets. Doing both allowed us more creative freedom.

3. I see that Bel Bête LLC does a lot of pieces in faux leather – do you like working with this material best?

There are certain designs that only work in the faux leather, in the way that it helps give off the desired feeling I want it to. I wanted Power, I wanted fierce, a force …and that feeling was apparent with the faux leather than with anything else. People wearing those items would tell us “I feel so bad ass!” and that is EXACTLY what we wanted. It’s the feeling and the faux leather was the best way to communicate that. So, fabric depends on whatever feeling we’re trying to portray in certain designs.

4. What drove you to design for people and their pets?

We always thought our furry family members should look as good as we do when we go out. From there it grew into Bel Bête where in designing for people allowed us more creative expression.

5. Your Facebook page says you have furry loved ones – what type of breed do you have and what fashion style suits them?

We had a Black Lab, he passed a little bit ago age the age of 15. He loved his Vest Hoodie the most – smile emoticon water proof Brown Shell with red plaid flannel. That was his style, god help you if you took it off him to wash it.

6. What sets your pieces apart from the rest?

I think what sets us apart the most is the feeling our designs evoke. That’s our goal rather than a certain look. Because of that we are not so stuck on following certain trends. Pieces are made to help express a feeling, whether it’s feeling like bad ass or feeling like you could give Marilyn Monroe a run for her money in our Old Hollywood inspired gown. Happily, that seems to stick out.

7. Is there anything special you do to put ‘your stamp’ on your pieces?

A lot of my pieces are asymmetrical or have asymmetrical elements some where on it.

8. What is your most popular piece?

Right now our most popular pieces is the Men’s Rugged Ripple Vest.

9. What has been the craziest request from a client (be it product or design)?

We made a wedding dress for a pet wedding for the Nat Geo show Spoiled Rotten Pets. But don’t think that’s too crazy. We’d love to do things that let our imaginations run wild.

10. In regards to pets, do you notice any trends per city in the Lehigh Valley? Things such as pet fashion or what breeds that are popular in Allentown versus Easton or Bethlehem?

In the Valley when it comes to pet apparel it’s really just warming up with bigger breeds, lots of Pit Bulls. People are more comfortable dressing up their dogs more so now than they were a few years ago. The more we’ve been seeing is coats for winter and raincoats.

Support local and be sure to check out their site!

More images from S/S 2016 The Premier Night:

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Dartanya  –  Art 2 The Skin  –  Abundant Style  Clothes Mentor  –  Urban Varieties  –    Clothesversity  –  Stay by Stacey Angela  –  Lara Bly

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