By Olivia Shur, Staff Writer
Within two seconds after stepping through the backstage area of 19th Amendment’s fashion show on Saturday, I was surrounded by complete chaos or, shall I say, organized chaos.
Clothes were hung all along the top of dressing screens, waiting for models to slip into them. The entire right side of the room had been taken over by hair and makeup artists, who were hastily beautifying away – and making the entire room smell like hairspray. Designers were running around, making sure all of their outfits were runway-ready. I approached one of the calmer-looking ones, and she not only eagerly showed me her collection, but explained the woes of the fashion industry as well.
“The fashion world can be so crucial sometimes. Either you’re in or you’re out,” said Jesenia Lopez, designer and Lasell college graduate. “It’s just really hard sometimes for emerging designers to get that credit.”
Amanda Curtis, the founder of advocacy-fashion-brand 19th Amendment, is looking to change that.
“The 19th Amendment gave everyone a voice to the democratic process. We give everyone a voice in fashion,” Curtis said.
Last summer, Curtis founded 19th Amendment, an organization that gives new designers a platform to launch their collections. She recognized the need for designers to get a foot in the door of the industry – without breaking the bank. The organization’s first ever “flash fashion shows” (more on that later), took place Saturday on Newbury Street, the Prudential Center and Quincy Market. In order to be a part of 19th Amendment, designers had to submit their work to a “virtual studio” on the organization’s website. Their designs were then featured in the fashion shows at a cost that can’t be beat: completely free.
“Compared to what the registration is at Boston Fashion Week, it’s like, $7,000 just to get into the show,” Curtis said, “And you’re maybe showing in front of 70 people, who are probably there for other reasons besides buying your stuff.”
The chaos continued as the first flash fashion show took place on Newbury Street. A 40-foot catwalk rolled out onto the sidewalk and a DJ set up alongside the buildings line Boston’s fashion avenue. Curious onlookers began to gather around the area, taking photographs and tweeting about what was happening – which was exactly what Curtis intended to happen. By having the shows out in the open, it was free for the designers to participate and for street-goers to watch. The only problem? Curtis chose not to obtain permits for using the public sidewalk; hence, a “flash fashion show”, a quick, runway-style show that lasts no more than 10 minutes. Cue, music, models, photographers and then move on to the next location – before the police come.
Curtis explained why this type of opportunity is great for emerging designers — and why Boston is the place to do it.
“If you’re in New York, you really need the money [to launch your designs]. Here you can do it without the money. This is their opportunity to show their fashion that they may not have gotten otherwise,” Curtis said.
Lopez also concurred with Curtis’ statement.
“This is that little platform, that push, just having someone standing behind you in order to get out there,” Lopez said.
In the future, Curtis has high expectations for 19th Amendment. She plans on expanding to a nationwide level, and to continue helping designers launch their careers. Curtis wants her designers to not only have success on the runway, but also have an income they can live off of through their work.
“We really want it to be a platform for designers to launch themselves into a career, where they’re not just achieving success from a Vogue standpoint, but from a financial standpoint, as well,” Curtis said.
While the chaos completely overwhelmed me, Curtis was not bothered by it in the slightest.
“This is absolutely nuts upstairs,” Curtis said, as her eyes widened with excitement, “But I love it.”