SPARKcon plans for biggest fashion show yet — with a fountain for a runway

Last year, fashionSPARK was held at CAM Raleigh. This year's show is outside in front of Raleigh’s Memorial Auditorium. Photo courtesy of fashionSPARK.

In front of downtown Raleigh’s Memorial Auditorium is a stately fountain, where visitors can toss in pennies or just admire the view. But the night of Sept. 15, the long fountain in Lichtin Plaza will be transformed into a fashion runway.

Yes, you read that right. This will be turned into the runway. Nice.

It’s fashionSPARK, part of SPARKcon, Raleigh’s annual four-day celebration of all things weird and creative. You can learn more about SPARKcon at sparkcon.com. Also check the festival’s IG account.

The SPARKcon fashion showcase features 10 North Carolina designers, including Durham-based clothing company Runaway, which will debut its fall 2017 collection at the show. You can also check out jewelry and accessories from local designers at the free Jewelry Trunk Show inside Memorial Auditorium before the fashion show.

“The variety is what people love,” said organizer Erica Porter. “I pride myself on that. … We’ll have different size models, different styles, different craft levels.”

This year’s fashion show could be the biggest yet

Since 2011, she’s been in charge of fashionSPARK, one of SPARKcon’s many categories – and the coolest, according to Porter. “We boast ourselves as the largest [fashion] show in the Triangle,” she said. “You can be walking downtown and then — Boom! There’s a fashion show happening.”

Porter anticipates that this 12th annual fashion show will be the biggest one yet. This will be the first time it takes place outside the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, which will allow for the biggest fashionSPARK crowd ever, Porter hopes. She’s planning for upwards of 5,000 people to watch the models strut their stuff in front of Memorial Auditorium, which will be illuminated bright orange in honor of SPARKcon.

FashionSPARK’s motto is “wear what you are.”

“We really encourage our designers to design what they are, put themselves on the runway,” Porter said. “Our theme this year was ‘equity,’ so they are designing on what that word means to them.”

Styles will range from edgy streetwear to intricate, embroidered couture. Designer Adrienne McKenzie’s collection Embellished has vintage-inspired pieces decorated with sequins, beads, and more – all painstakingly applied by McKenzie herself.

Also on the runway will be Julkee Fashion, designed by Julie Patel, which offers a fusion of traditional Indian wear and western fashion.

Find a full list of designers here.

“For me, it’s fun because we have some designers who have been in the show before, and I get to see their progression,” Porter said. “That’s really fun to watch, especially the jewelry designers. … Their craft really starts to elevate.”

She has watched clothing label Runaway, founded by Durham’s Gabriel Eng-Goetz, do just that. When the brand showed at the 2015 fashionSPARK show, its pieces were only available online. Now Runaway, which celebrates Durham and North Carolina with many of its pieces, has its very own store in the Bull City.

RUNAWAY is proud to participate in SPARKcon again this year as part of our 2017 Fall Release. . We will be debuting our Fall 2017 collection on the runway at the “Wear What You Are” fashion show for fashionSPARK. . Come see our new fall items modeled on the runway alongside other ensembles by talented fashion designers in the triangle. Then come party with us at Trophy downtown. . WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT: "Wear What You Are" Fashion Show – FREE Friday, Sept 15th, 8:30-9:30pm Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts 2 E South St, Raleigh, NC 27601 . RUNAWAY Afterparty Friday, Sept 15th, 9:30pm-2am Trophy 225 S Wilmington St, Raleigh, NC 27601 DJs TBD Annoucement of the People's Choice Award More details about the after party coming soon. . . . @sparkconner @fashionsparkcon

A post shared by RUNAWAY® (@runaway_brand) on

“We give them a platform,” Porter said. “That’s one thing about SPARKcon, too. We try to give those folks that are maybe overlooked the chance to show what they can do. If they want to take it to the next level … we can help guide them. We’re here for the artist.”

The Jewelry Trunk Show is at 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 15, in Meymandi Gallery in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E South Street, Raleigh. The fashion show is at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 15, in front of the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts.

Buy tickets here.

Going to show? Talk to me on Twitter at @eviefordham about who you’re excited to see.

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