Lawrence Laundry: KC fashion show is redeeming

Look for profiles of the Lawrence designers who were featured in the 12th annual West 18th Street Fashion Show in the Pulse section July 15.

A few weekends ago, I walked into a well-dressed, hat-wearing crowd of Kansas City folk preparing to feast their eyes upon 18 local fashion designers’ Triple Crown-inspired collections.

As the theme suggests, the designers chosen to participate created clothing collections reflecting the different fashions found at horse races.

To be honest, it surprised me that not only are there 18 fashion designers in the Kansas City area, there are 18 very, very talented fashion designers in the Kansas City area. And, in fact, four of them are from Lawrence.

I considered the show to be a bit redemptive after Travel + Leisure magazine recently named Kansas City the 10th worst-dressed city in America.

In Midwest form, the 18 collections largely showcased current widespread, wearable fashion trends (i.e. neons, colorblocking with pastels and neons, asymmetrical skirts, back fabric cutouts), but I found it refreshing that most designers put their own creative spins on the trend to create a look that I had never seen before.

Also in Midwest form, everyone was really polite. I had the chance to chat with the four designers from Lawrence, and they each were thrilled to talk about their experience in the fashion world of the Lawrence/Kansas City area.

They were also very kind in schooling me on the virtues of the Midwest fashion design world as compared to the coasts.

Margie Hogue, a 30-year-old designer who just created her first apparel line for Awava, a fair-trade African craft company, said, “There’s so much talent and creativity here, and because it’s so much harder for us to connect to the big fashion headquarters because of our location, people are more creative about how to get themselves out there.”

Jen Hunt offered her opinion on the matter as well. She pointed out, “The Midwest has what the coasts don’t have. Here, it’s about the person and what’s inside that person more than the actual clothes. Whatever it is that you do, you should be able to do anywhere. I think that things just as interesting and progressive come out of the Midwest as the coasts or the South or another country. I don’t think we should be limited based on geography.”

As a woman mildly obsessed with the Midwest and Kansas in particular, I’m inclined to agree.

The 18th Street Fashion Show in the Crossroads district of Kansas City demonstrated a small subset of the city’s thirst for fashion, but I think it speaks more clearly about the move the Midwest is making toward more progressive and innovative style.

For anyone wanting to experience some Midwest fashion design, put these upcoming dates on your calendar and make plans to attend: Kansas City Fashion Week (Sept. 5-9) and Omaha Fashion Week (Aug. 20-25).

See backstage photos from the show.

— Ali Edwards can be reached at


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