Event promotes up-and-coming designers, models and artists

Nestled between the towering State Capitol and the Jupiter and Juno Mardi Gras parade on Saturday night was 60 feet of runway where One-ofakind Baton Rouge Fashion Week made its debut.

The passing parade only added to the experience at the Capitol Park Museum, where fashions from Baton Rouge and Arkansas designers, boutiques and artists were showcased on the outside stage.

OBRFW founder Brandon D. Campbell organized the event to promote up-and-coming designers, models and creative artists and to raise money for the Louisiana Museum Foundation, the nonprofit organization that runs the Capitol Park Museum.

“The energy was great and people stayed in their seats when it was over,” said Campbell of what was touted as the week’s “Big Night” show.

First on stage was the body art of Christopher Youngstar, of Little Rock, Ark., where Campbell started a fashion week in 2009.

Youngstar unveiled his designs for men and women on models, who wore scanty undergarments and painted-on T-shirts. The visual artist said he began painting his fashions when approached by Campbell to participate in the first year of Little Rock Fashion Week.

“Instead of making a T-shirt, a scarf or a dress, we paint it,” said Youngstar, who hopes to start an actual clothing line in the future.

Anitra Bender, the current Miss New Orleans USA, said she was nervous about modeling the painted-on fashion, but her nerves had settled by the time she stepped on to the runway.

She called the painted designs “a really cool idea,” adding they were “something that is different.”

Bender was among the 60 or so local models chosen to showcase spring and summer designs, including those from entrepreneur Campbell’s iME line.

He described his looks as “everyday casual wear with some urban influences.” Each piece, he said, derives from his “ideas and observations of the world today.”

Also hitting the runway were designs from a group of senior students and graduates of LSU’s Department of Textiles, Apparel Design and Merchandising.

LSU alum Ella Rose showed two formal wear looks crafted from black Louisiana alligator and velvet.

“The idea was kind of poking fun at the velvet Elvis paintings that people would do in the ’70s,” Rose said. “So my take on that was to produce copies of classic Monet paintings onto velvet dresses that I made.”

Rachel Detloff said the design of her purple ombre gown was sparked by the Caroline Herrera chiffon fabric she found.

“I changed my design when I found this fabric,” Detloff said.

Student Katherine Bonnecaze found inspiration in fashion icon Audrey Hepburn for her black and pink gown, while Victoria Beadles called her pink-and-beige strapless gown a modern spin on “Pride and Prejudice.”

Department head Jenna Kuttruff said the show provided a valuable opportunity for the students.

“If their designs are special, people will pay attention,” said Kuttruff, adding she hopes the local event is the start of a new fashion scene in Baton Rouge that will bring career possibilities for students.

“As a general rule, many of them don’t want to leave Louisiana,” Kuttruff said, “but there hasn’t been much fashion opportunity in Baton Rouge.”

From designer Shonda Ali-Shamaa’s Love R.O.C.S line came fashion in red, black and white in weighty fabrics the designer called “sexy and romantic.”

Ali-Shamaa is the recipient of the Little Rock Fashion Week’s 2013 Clothing Line of the Year.

“I make clothes for every woman,” Ali- Shamaa said.

Fashions also were presented by JuJu’s Boutique, where owner Sheri Duplantis says geometric and Aztec prints will be popular prints this season, as well as high-waisted shorts and watercolors.

At the show, Erin Rolfs was presented the OBRFW Fashion Icon Award.

Campbell said the event raised $1,500 for the Louisiana Museum Foundation, which will use the money for conservation of a rare War of 1812 military uniform, which will be exhibited later this year.