Fashion Week – MKE Style

Milwaukee recently finished its first fashion week. It wasn’t a traditional fashion week with tents, day after day of designer shows, and tons of street style photographers, but more of a celebration of the people working to bring fashion forward in the city. Working towards a mission of promoting local talent, stimulating economic development, and encouraging partnerships to sustain a local fashion economy, the board for Fashion Week MKE got the ball rolling on this huge initiative.

The board includes Michael Damond, Essential Barbie, and Amy Watkins of FashionableMags, Bjorn Nasett of FashionFarmboy, and Wren Solares of such events as Milwaukee Up Market. I look at this group of people as catalysts since they all have projects of their own, but are also very passionate about promoting others and building a community versus just their own personal brands.

Every day was jam-packed with different events such as panel discussions, informational seminars, and themed night-time events. In addition there was a model competition with different challenges each day. We had a chance to attend 3 days worth of events, and as part of the media coverage got a ton of pictures. On the Barely Practical Facebook page you’ll find full albums of Sunday’s events such as the Top Dog Show and the MKE Runway Fashion Show, Monday’s Wearable Art Hair and Makeup Event, Friday’s Music Icon Night and T-Shirt Fashion Show, Boutique Blitz, and of course some of the best shoes spotted along the way.

Fashion Week MKE

I picked a couple of my favorite things to highlight on the blog, starting with my experience as a surprise judge for Sunday’s portion of the model competition. The challenge for the day was based on personality. Last fall when I was in NYC for IFBCON, I had the opportunity to hear Iman speak and she talked about how the world has changed for models and how personality is so important. The day of the supermodel is over and top fashion magazines now put celebrities on the cover. A good model has to have personality to make sure they stand out and aren’t just another hanger walking down the runway.

I had the opportunity to meet the models and talk with each of them. I asked them to describe their look and what set them apart. We also talked about what my photographer and I look for as models walk down the runway. Our advice – slow down so we can see your outfit and get a good shot.

MKE Top Model Contest


Later that night was the main fashion show which featured a mix of new looks from local boutiques, repurposed looks from FashionFarmboy and Goodwill’s upscale store Retique, as well as looks from local designers such as Zoe Silberstein. I picked some of my favorites below and you can check the Facebook album for full credits and where to find various looks.





Monday night was the wearable art – hair and makeup event. We got a chance to watch art being created on the models as well as check out some of the photoshoots with Thom Ertl’s gorgeous furniture.

Thom Ertl furniture

Friday night was music icon night where we were treated to a performance by several people transformed into music icons as well as a t-shirt fashion show. See if you can guess the music icons below.





The last event I was able to attend was the Boutique Blitz. I had a little extra time to spend at Third Coast Style and had a chance to talk with designer Tessa Koller who is working with me on a sweater for my upcoming trip to the Lucky Magazine FAAB conference next week!

Third Coast Style Boutique

Tessa Koller designs

All in all the week was a lot of fun. Like any first year event it had its bumps in the road and there are certainly improvements I’d like to see for next year. Personally, I’d like more designer focused fashion shows and the model competition to be a little more prominent so it’s easy to see how people are doing throughout the week. I’ve seen surveys asking for feedback from the event coordinators so I’m sure the event will continue to evolve and grow over time. I look forward to seeing what this group brings us in the future!

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