Caitlin: Zeke Westerman’s Catwalk for a Cause Brings Out the Beautiful & the Bored

Fashion shows in Lawrence are typically hit or miss…

So when Lawrence designer Zeke Westerman asked me if I would model for him, I’m not gonna lie…I was a bit hesitant.

But when I woke up sick as a dog to an urgent text message regarding another model-mishap, I knew there was no backing down. “One of Zeke’s models canceled, do you know any girls?” Sick or no—I was walking in this show.

I certainly couldn’t leave him two models short with four hours till go-time.  But in times of desperation, do we fashion snobs take just anyone? Hell no.

“I just need a pretty girl with long brown hair,” Zeke told me.

Oh, ok. No big deal. (I left that one to Zeke.)

Later on, I arrived at Static Hair Salon, 12 East 8th Street, for hair and make-up, where Roxanne McCoy-Klaus, Jen Nickels, Kevin Shutts, and their magic make-up crew dolled each of us up.

“I’ve never worked with a designer who has such a vision,” Jen commented as she pinned my freshly curled locks deliberately, according to Zeke’s exact instructions. “Sometimes when we volunteer to help with these local shows, the designers don’t even stop by the salon. The model sits down and says something like, ‘I think I get an up-do?’ and that’s all the direction we get.” I nodded, thinking back on other shows where I was that confused model sitting in that chair, wondering what I’d gotten myself into. Jen, now armed with hairspray, called Zeke over. “Does this look ok before we lock it down?” she asked him, gesturing towards my head of hair, now completely styled to one side in a sweeping up-do. “He always finds something,” she joked, looking at me from the corner of her eye.

Zeke had styled not one but two runs for this year’s spring show. But even with so many models to look after, I must say, Zeke’s investment did not falter and his efforts did not look spread thin. He wanted everything to be just so, something that I believe brings his designs to a level above the typical, lackadaisical Lawrence designer. “I tell people what I want,” Zeke explained, “but I also make sure my models are happy. Because if they’re not happy with what they’re wearing or how they look, they won’t be comfortable and their awkwardness will show on stage.”

For the run in which I participated, Zeke used clothing and dresses supplied by Wildman Vintage, 939 Massachusetts Street. Wildman employee Holly Charlton helped Zeke with dress fittings and acted as her right-hand man. Together they selected outfits from an array of vintage pieces sold in the shop. Zeke also designed elaborate head-pieces and floral accents to be worn on each dress. “I wanted my run to have a storyline to explain my design choices and dress styles. My models were to imagine that they were bourgie, snotty city kids. They were tired of their extravagant, pampered lifestyles and decided to move into the woods, rebel, and throw a party.”

Indeed, as we dressed, the stiff, vintage gowns seemed to be slowly adapting, changing like a chameleon to reflect a new habitat. I was becoming one with the forest, and its very flowers and leaves were used as my personal accessories.

Before we stepped onto the runway, Zeke gave us last-minute instructions. “I want you all to look like you’re so bored on the catwalk—not boring, just bored….like you’re so exhausted with your riche city lifestyle and you’re so above the other, typical bourgeois babes.”

As the music started, I stuck my nose up, spoiled-brat style, and waited for my turn to walk, while Zeke paraded around us and peeked out onto the stage to see his first model walk.

That’s when I knew our run was a hit—immediately, already a success. I heard whistles, cat calls, and audience applause above the music. “Yes!” said Zeke, peering back at us as we waited. “Yes, yes, oh my god! Hot. She looks so bored.”

Catwalk for a Cause, a benefit for the GaDuGi SafeCenter SafeBar Alliance, was held at The Granada, 1020 Massachusetts Street, on Saturday April 30, 2011.

Designer and stylist participants included:

Zeke Westerman
Wildman Vintage
Katrina Weiss
Chrissy Spencer
Betsy Hatch
Timur Segun
Steffani Day
Vintage Van
Social Service League
Vintage Dress
Plato’s Closet


Photos of Caitlin Donnelly by Carolina Mariana Rodriguez.
Photo of Carolina Mariana Rodiguez with make-up by Roxanne McCoy-Klaus by Caitlin Donnelly.
Photo of Zeke Westerman and models by Caitlin Donnelly.
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4 Responses to Caitlin: Zeke Westerman’s Catwalk for a Cause Brings Out the Beautiful & the Bored

  1. chuck says:

    Shut the fuck up guys, leave it alone.
    I am glad it was for a good cause and everyone had a good time.

    It sounds great!

    Every one looks happy. 🙂

    I love the flower girl, oh I don’t know just why, she simply caught my eye…

  2. chuck says:

    I had never heard of the GaDuCi safe center
    Just looked it up—wonderful cause and you have a striking profile. 🙂

  3. smartman says:

    Hey Jenee
    I’m sure you are a very sweet and well intentioned young woman. Like Ugly Betty aka Maria before you I’m sure you’ll tire quickly of Craig trying to butter your muffins. So, that being said, I won’t be as nice as Chuck who I don’t know but yet dearly love, admire, respect and hope to be when I get growed up. I’m all for supporting good causes, is my favorite, but I digress. Send this poo-poo to Jenee Ostertag or whatever her name is at the Star that thinks she’s an African American version of Carrie from Sex in the City. That’s where it belongs not here in the modern day version of the HE MAN WOMAN HATERS CLUB. OTAY?

  4. Rainbow Man says:

    Palm Sunday
    Did Calista Flockhart take over for Willem Dafoe in a live “Passion of Christ” play on the streets of Lawrence? Jeez… I missed it.

    If I I show up to work with some weeds shoved into my belt… I am suddenly a victim of the recession. Hope it was fun.

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