Typically, fashion events in San Francisco are over hyped and under delivered. Promoters like to throw around phrases such as “first ever”, “premier”, “exclusive”, and “best” when describing their events at a bar or club. They don’t think twice about appointing themselves with some made up titles awarded to them by some made up organization that is nothing more than a web page and Facebook page.
In the case of Eco-Fashion Show at the Bentley Reserve on November 18th organized by Yetunde Schuhmann, founder of SF Style, it was a little different. It was under hyped and under delivered. Prior to the event, there was only a few mentions in obscure events listing referring viewers to buy tickets at $24 and $65 a pop. There was no website referenced and the entire search-able content consisted of time, place, and price.
I had already written this off as another ho hum fashion event nobody will remember next week but since I was already in San Francisco for another event, I decided to drop by and check it out since it was held at the beautiful Bently Reserve. The VIP event was slated to start at 7:30 p.m. but when I arrived at 7:15, I found the entrance to be a barren wasteland. Four volunteers stood at a reception table with nothing to do. Upon entry, I found a vast hall setup with a long raised runway lined with chairs on both sides. As a photographer, the first thing I noticed was the complete lack of any supplemental lighting. Aside from that, the staging showed promise as it appeared to be setup for a large production serving thousands of patrons. Perhaps all of them were in another hall mingling with San Francisco’s fashion elites. A quick stroll around and I quickly realized this was a not ready for prime time event taking place at a premier venue.
The four featured designers were Oda (consisting of Angie Kim, Maggie Kim, & Mandalyn Begay), Lorian Lindsay, Ethos Paris, and a very bubbly Rachel Znerold. While I support the aspirations and hard work of new and upcoming designers, these designers were clearly out of their league in a venue of this size. I would expect to see the likes of Colleen Quen in such a venue. But realizing the space was donated by Christopher and Amber Marie Bently, these new designers are fortunate to have the opportunity. It was just a little strange to see the three designers with eight models in a venue of this size. The models were a mixed bag with a few on the short side as runway models go. Most of them were awkward and their walks lacked experience and polish.
From a production standpoint, the show ran 50 minutes late on a Thursday night and didn’t start until almost 10 pm. The fashion show itself was preceded by a very talented performance by singer Ryan Marcell who performed for 20 minutes so if the models were not ready, there was no reason to not start the show 20 minutes earlier. The crowd of less than 200 was getting antsy since some of them had been there for 2.5 hours. Backstage, there did not appear to be any sense of urgency even as the start of the show went pass 30 minutes overdue. In addition to the complete lack of preshow publicity, the production was also hurt by overpriced tickets. San Francisco cannot support ticket prices of $65 for a fashion show nobody has heard of from obscure designers. They would have been better off charging $5 to get 2,000 people in there.
As for lighting, it was my own personal hell as it appears there was a blind man operating the spot light. The room itself had no professional lighting and to make things worse, there were occasional spots on the runway making consistent photography all but impossible. As if this was not bad enough, the problem was made even worse by someone pointing a spotlight at the models midsection the entire time. It’s unclear if this lighting person had a personal fetish with belts or waistlines but the end result is very bright torso with the models’ face in the shadow. There is nothing a photographer can do to overcome this. Speaking of photographers, I was one of two and I ended up there by accident. Can you imagine a runway show where there are no photographers? That was almost a reality at this show.
Now having said all that, I do applaud the organizers, designers, and models for a good effort. But the general public does not pay hard earned money for trying. In the end, a show has to deliver for the intended audience and this show failed. Hopefully, this will be a hard lesson for those involved to do better the next time if there is a next time.
Slide show of selected images
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