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:
Social Service League
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.