Runway crawls with music and fashion

Runway crawls with music and fashion

Erin Adler

Sunday mornings at First Avenue usually don’t spell excitement – unless you get excited about clean bathrooms and an empty dance floor.

This Sunday, however, the downtown Minneapolis club was filled with a palpable sense of anticipation.

Models stared sleepily off into the distance and designers scuttled up and down the stairs frantically. Indie rock blared from a boom box while a woman measured the dimensions of a makeshift runway and outlined it in tape.

This early-morning rehearsal was the only time models and designers had to prepare for the second-annual Voltage 2005: Fashion Amplified show, an event combining the worlds of fashion and music.

A collaborative event

The idea to create an event showcasing both local fashion designers and local bands originated with Anna Lee, a Minneapolis-based fashion designer.

“The success of last year’s event established that there is a design scene here,” Lee said.

This year, Voltage brings together eight local bands, from the Soviettes to the Olympic Hopefuls, to perform on stage while dressed in the creations of local fashion designers. Each band’s clothing ensemble is the result of one-on-one collaborations between band members and designers.

“The concept of the show is ingenious, in a way,” said Elizabeth Chesney, who has created clothing for the show both years. “Last year went very well; this year there are twice as many designers.”

The four-hour show also features a runway element, in which models strut the catwalk wearing clothing made by the 25 designers involved.

Spectator to participant

Dahli Langer is a designer in this year’s show, as well as the owner of her own design company in Minneapolis.

“I went to the show last year. The event really took everyone by surprise because tons of people showed up,” Langer said.

After watching the show last year, Langer applied to be part of the 2005 show and was invited to sketch possible outfits for bands she wanted to dress.

She created a proposal for the band Ouija Radio, whose members also attended last year’s show. The band selected her designs and will wear her clothing while performing their six-song medley.

Langer’s outfits for the band were inspired by ’70s trends; the pieces are all in hues of gold. Drummer Charles Gehr said the clothing’s era and spirit fits the band’s sound.

“I wanted to create outfits personal to the band and connected to their music. Wearing these designs, they’re like Ouija Radio squared,” she said.

The future of fashion?

Lee said she originally envisioned the show as a way to create a sustainable environment for designers in the Twin Cities.

In the year since the first show, she has begun to see evidence of a “growing fashion scene,” including more fashion shows.

“People are getting more creative about the shows, and there are many more collaborations,” she said.

During the last year, two stores opened selling local designs, Club Nico and Cliche. Design Collective, another outlet, will open June 4.

In addition, local magazine L’etoile debuted this month, highlighting Minneapolis/St. Paul designers and fashion.

“The Twin Cities fashion community is definitely gaining momentum,” wrote Beth Hammarlund, L’etoile’s editor in chief, in an e-mail.

“At this point, everyone still has a day job. I think that if we just keep pushing forward, independent design could become the day job,” she said.