Trends with benefits: Recapping Missouri’s Fashion Weeks

Six of the reality show’s stars presented their stylish stuff in Kansas City and St. Louis.

Recently, both Kansas City Fashion Week and St. Louis Fashion Week featured collections from some of the most talented local and national designers.

Many of this season’s designers at KCFW were cut from the same cloth. Six of the most-anticipated designers all got their big breaks as contestants on the reality show “Project Runway.”

While they may have gotten to present their looks to industry icon Heidi Klum in New York or Los Angeles, these Project Runway veterans were made to measure for Missouri fashion.

“Runway” alumnus Casanova showcased a collection of sexy swimsuits and beachwear. From the cutout monokinis and floppy hats to the sheer cover-ups and army-green banana hammocks, Casanova’s swimwear exuded more sass than Tim Gunn himself.

Casanova says he is excited to return to Missouri next season and present a polar opposite collection to this past season’s.

“(My next collection) is full of drama,” Casanova says. “I’ve always been inspired by the women I have on my mind who have lots of confidence.”

In the most memorable moment of the night, alumnus Joshua McKinley was able to, ahem, “Make it work!” with Make-A-Wish. Partnering with the foundation and a hopeful model named Elizabeth, McKinley showed off a show-stopping neon green dress that was custom-made for her in collaboration with Johnathan Kayne.

The fourth designer to present her line was alumna Althea Harper. Her models floated across the runway in her stunning collection of maxi dresses and bohemian beachwear. Predominantly prints in shades of sky blue and sage green, Harper’s clothes felt extremely calm.

Ending the evening’s show was alumnus Anthony Ryan Auld. His creative collection of jungle-themed jackets and futuristic frocks made of leather and wool highlighted the show with their geometric shapes and impeccable cuts.

St. Louis’ own Laura Kathleen Baker of seasons nine and two was my personal favorite from KCFW. Her collection conveyed confidence that any woman could wear both in the boardroom and out at the bar. The color-blocking white and bronze pencil skirts and crop tops were effortlessly chic, while the smattering of blue pants and jumpsuits was surprising and bold.

Baker says she is excited to see Fashion Week continue to put Missouri on the fashion map.

"KCFW is run by a great team of people,” Baker says. “It's only going to keep getting better and better each year.”

Up next was Baker's fellow St. Louis native and season eight alumnus Michael Drummond. From harnesses and hemlines to hats and harem pants, Drummond’s collection was all about the details. Silver sequins and beaded bodices bedecked his presentation in brilliant fashion.

"My collection continues to build upon my existing belief that a woman should own clothing for a lifetime, transition from season to season effortlessly and have a quality product that speaks of an urban street culture," Drummond said.

Just a couple weeks after showing his collection at KCFW, Drummond returned home to St. Louis and presented his line at STLFW. Drummond said he is grateful for the ability of both fashion weeks to put a spotlight on local designers.

"St. Louis Fashion Week continues to impress year after year," Drummond says. "The opportunities they present to independent and emerging designers is priceless. … An unexpected bonus was the knowledge, ability and organization of the Kansas City Fashion Week team. They made it so easy for me to be there to see the city and show my collection."

All six talented designers were unforgettable to watch and a perfect fit for both KCFW and STLFW. It seems clear that at Missouri's Fashion Weeks, these Project Runway designers will always be in style.

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