More than a year after bringing hip-hop concerts to a downtown Salt Lake City alleyway, Vishwa Srinivasan helped launch a new cultural venture — a celebration of fashion and music that filled the Eccles Theater lobby and spilled out onto Main Street.
The free Friday night event — Main Street: A Fashion and Music Experience — paired seven designers and seven hip-hop artists, all based in Utah. The show provided a needed platform to a strong subsection of Utah’s culture.
Alleyways Amplified, the program Srinivasan started last year with hip-hop shows in an alley, “has always been about elevating local talent in ways and places you’d least expect,” Srinivasan said via email. “That holds true for creating a runway show in the Eccles Theater with the doors open to Main Street, where local musicians are dressed in local designers’ [clothes], singing a setlist created and curated by both.”
The designer/musician pairings were: Akomi and Duomie, Hookchute and Gavanni, Sunny Ivy and RSD, Sage Nelsen and Cherry Thomas, The Sew Sew and Lady Infinity, L’Amoure Ferrer and Detzany and Kreate Kollective and Dawn.
The stage in the Eccles lobby was small, with a square runway that took models and performers outside briefly — where people who couldn’t get into the jam-packed lobby could also enjoy the show. Inside, the 200 or so in attendance filled all the seats, and flocked the staircases and upper-level balconies to get a look. In front of the stage, eight retro television sets displayed the names of the designers and musicians. Vendors sold goods on an upper floor.
Before the show, the backstage area coursed with excited energy, as models got ready and content creator teams shot behind-the-scenes footage. Music played to hype up the audience, designers and performers alike.
Brown said, “The show being at the Eccles represents a newfound institutional support for young artists in Salt Lake, and how that support not only reinforces these artists’ belief in themselves but further establishes the credibility of the artistry that is slowly moving from the periphery of the city to the main streets and cultural core.”
Model Jessica Begay walked the runway for The Sew Sew, and said she was excited to be part of Utah’s growing fashion scene. She participated in the Indigenous Fashion Week show held in April at The Leonardo, and found out about Friday’s show from an Instagram call-out.
Cindy Bithell, who designed the items for The Sew Sew, told The Tribune she started sewing a decade ago, and fashion design followed.
Friday’s event was the first time she took part in a real fashion show with models wearing her looks, she said. Her runway show featured the most upbeat set, with music by Lady Infinity, and two dancers onstage.
“I got more into the home sewing world, where I was just sewing myself clothing. In the last three years, I’ve really gotten heavily into designing sewing patterns for home sewers,” Bithell said.
Much of Bithell’s work, she said, focuses on minimal or low-waste design. One of her dresses produced zero waste. Another was made of leftover yarn, sewn together. Two more were multicolored “scrap dresses” that resembled rainbows.
“I take all the scraps from the pieces of the dresses or projects that I’ve done, and I saved the material and then I attach it to just a thin fabric,” she said.
Another dynamic pairing was Cherry Thomas’ performance for designer Sage Nelsen’s line, which featured tops, bottoms and a full skirt, made from neckties. Model Brady Hamilton, sporting the skirt, carried a fan while walking the runway, stunning the crowd as they worked their outfit.
Each collection stood out in its own way. Akomi’s line featured casual menswear. Hookchute took on athleisure and bike clothing. Sunny Ivy featured a yellow t-shirt that read, “Salt Lake City is an art city” on one side and “Don’t let it fool you” on the back. Detzany sang her heart out during L’Amoure Ferrer’s collection, which featured a diverse group of models.
The idea for the Main Street show came to Srinivasan, he said, after a conversation with Joshua Jones, communications and marketing director for The Downtown Alliance. When Srinivasan heard that Thomas was planning to stage a fashion show at the University of Utah, he said they decided it would be a great opportunity to “bridge the gap between fashion and music.”
Planning started in November. Goodman and Mapstone were “instrumental,” Srinivasan said, with Goodman acquiring sponsors and leading the marketing (she even named the show), and Mapstone deploying her experience in the fashion industry to help with model coordination, runway design and more.
The organizers were able to build a lot of the show through open calls, Srinivasan said. In the end, they gathered seven musicians, seven designers, four sponsors, numerous vendors, 82 models — and the Eccles Theater itself — all locals.
Goodman wrote that was most excited for “being able to give so many talented people a platform, and opening Salt Lake to creative collaboration between different creative disciplines and different communities.”
The event, capturing the energy of a New York fashion show, demonstrated what can happen when creative people support each other. It showcased how Salt Lake City’s counterculture, bubbling behind more traditional art forms, is alive and eager to be heard.
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