Modesty ablaze

Local fashion designers spice up the runway

Claire Joseph

This ain’t your momma’s museum.

The Minnesota Museum of American Art has moved from the second floor of the Landmark Center to a street-level location in the heart of downtown St. Paul. Executive Director Bruce Lilly said he wants to make this new space permanent. He said he believes that the community’s appreciation of the museum’s diverse exhibits and events “is all about visibility.”

Last Friday, the museum hosted “Local Flavor: A Concentration of Culture and Fashion.” The event’s main attraction was a fashion show displaying the clothing lines of nine local designers.

A silver runway, draped with white Christmas lights, became the canvas on which the designers displayed their art. Models personified art in the clothes they wore, their hair and makeup (by the Scot Lewis Schools), and their seductive dances down the runway. There was also film projected behind the models and DJ Booka’ B spun records in the background.

The clothing designers featured at the show were Arielle Breland, Steven Hutton, Lynn Sabin, LaDonna Funderburke, Barrett Johanneson, Barbara Heinrich, Erica Spitzer Rasmussen, Lauren Schad and Troy Williams.

The clothing worn by the models evoked many different emotions in the full-house audience of nearly 300.

In contrast to the image of runway models current in the mass media, the models in “Local Flavor,” both male and female, came in all sizes, ages and races. Funderburke, of the firm Anaquence, explained that the designers featured such a diverse range of models because, “we are all one people.”

After the fashion show, local band Vox Vermillion paired up with The Harmony Army, a team of three ballet dancers, to create a choreographed concert.

The Minnesota Museum of American Art is less a typical museum than a modern, risk-taking organization. It dares to go outside the stereotypes of what a museum should be. In turn, it attracts a young and lively crowd looking for new ways to define art.