top of page

Moda Week International brings Fashion designers to Syracuse

It begins with a stream of thoughts, observing young women at the show:

"Bangs manes bouffant beehives Beatle caps butter faces brush-on lashes decal eyes puffy sweaters French thrust bras flailing leather blue jeans stretch pants stretch jeans honeydew bottoms eclair shanks elf boots ballerinas Knight slippers, hundreds of them, these flaming little buds, bobbing and screaming, rocketing around..."Aren't they super-marvelous!" Wolfe writes, entirely ignoring the rules of punctuation.

Such was the frantic scene backstage at the first ever Syracuse Fashion Weekend runway show, produced by Esmeralda Harwood of East Syracuse.

The "super-marvelous" models, ranging from teenagers to mothers, "rocketed around" before the Friday night show at Oncenter's Nicholas J. Pirro Convention Center.

They nibbled on celery and carrots, practiced walking in stilettos and took selfie after selfie on breaks.

Out on the runway, the audience was smaller than they hoped. Ten rows of gold-backed chairs were arranged on either side of the runway, but only the first 4-5 rows were filled with a few hundred audience members.

But on went the show, featuring everything from the pom-poms and fringe of Tito Mohamed to the Swarovski crystal-studded gowns of Walid Atallah.

A portion of the show's ticket sales benefitted the Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital.

Though Mayor Stephanie Miner was scheduled to attend and give a keynote speech, her press secretary Alexander Marion attended instead on her behalf.

'"I was the only person on staff who could not be confused with a model," he quipped, before welcoming the audience with a pep talk about the city's "thriving creative class."

Marion apologized for the mayor ("Other duties called"), though he could not answer what other events Miner had to attend that night.

Low attendance and Miner's absence aside, no major snafus arose. No model stumbled and fell -- a true achievement considering the sky-high footwear.

It's hard to imagine a 16-year-old barking advice at a group of impeccably-dressed women, but student fashion designer Chloe Schnell had clear instructions before her models took the stage.

"Look through your eyebrows," Schnell commanded, demonstrating by tipping her blonde head down and glaring icily. "Look creepy. You're a bad bitch."

Her models nodded furiously. They looked like bad girls indeed, with lips painted black and hair teased into poofy clouds.

Syracuse's own Mr. Shop brought the male models, decked out in soft jackets, sharp blazers and dark peacoats with flashy pops of blue and red.

Mr. Shop and Syracuse University design duo Folie a Deux proved to have the most utilitarian lines for a Syracuse audience.

Don't get me wrong -- I'd love to see a woman walk down Walton Street in Mohamed's yellow balloon dress, but I'd also wonder how cold she is.

Quieesha Fanesse Burns, a fashion design student at Cazenovia College, based her seven-piece, handsewn line on Frank Ocean's song "Pyramids."

The playful collection featured silk, faux fur and wedding lace. Her models wore fishtail braids and their eyebrows and lips were smeared with gold.

Burns, who has designed clothing since elementary school, found a mentor in the show's producer, Harwood.

"Esmeralda is really inspirational," said Burns, 22. "I'm too nice. She reminds me to think of the models as bodies, which is hard because they're people. But she's helped me to be strict with what I want. She's a great mentor."

Alicia Post of Liverpool wore the bridal gown for Walid Atallah, the final dress for the headlining designer, a task she described as "nerve-wracking, but awesome."

Before stepping out on the runway, backstage stylists and production members cornered Post with waves of advice.

"Don't stop, don't think."

"Acts like you're walking on clouds."

"You OK?" asked the model in front of her.

"I got this," Post replied, her "decal eyes" gazing straight ahead.

She nailed it.

Atallah's couture line consists of 21 handmade, one-of-a-kind gowns, plus the wedding dress.

"It's not for daily use, but for special occasions," Atallah said about his line.

Syracuse Fashion Weekend marked his first visit to Syracuse.

"I like the city because there's no traffic," he said. "The people here are very kind. I visit the Golisano Children's Hospital. This fashion show goes to those kids."

Published: Oct.12, 2013.

City: Syracuse


bottom of page