BK Fashion struts its stuff

By Meredith Deliso

Underground fashion gets a literal twist when the Brooklyn Fashion Foundation brings its BK Fashion Week{end} show to a garage at Williamsburg’s Northside Piers. From March 21 to 23, the neighborhood will be the fashion mecca of Brooklyn, attracting top local and international talent, as well as artists and musicians to perform during the full-scale entertainment event, dubbed Brooklyn Fashion Underground. “We’re bringing fashion and entertainment together,” said producer Rick Davy. “It’s all art, music and fashion.” Entering its fifth season of shows this spring since debuting in May 2006 at the Tobacco Warehouse at Empire Fulton Ferry State Park in DUMBO, BK Fashion Week{end} is the work of the Brooklyn Style Foundation, a non-profit devoted to marketing and guiding local fashion designers founded by Davy and fellow Brooklynite Cybele Sandy. Though locally based, the opening night of the fashion show, showing Fall/Winter collections, is devoted to international talent, with designers from Paris (Denis Michel), Ghana (returning favorite Nana Boateng) and Romania (Catalin Botezatu). Among the dozen designers offering their fall 2008 collections throughout the rest of the weekend are Brooklyn natives and Crown Heights residents Marjory and Shirley Bruno of Miss Bruno. Having worked primarily with accessories such as stylish yet funky convertible scarves, the duo will make their debut at the fashion show with their dress collection. “This is the perfect place to start,” said Shirley. Marjory and Bruno, both very health conscious in their lifestyle (“We're very health nutty,” said Shirley), also parlay this passion into their work. “It's all about sustainable, holistic living,” said Shirley. “Sustainable living doesn't have to be a sacrifice.” Relying much on recycled fabric, Marjory and Bruno dig around vintage shops and leftover fabric from other fashion organizations to make their designs. “A lot of our inspiration comes from the fabric,” said Marjory, with key finds including French silk and lace from the turn of the century. The weekend will also feature returning fashion favorites like Catou and Riddim Driven, as well as bands handpicked by Davy and Sandy, including Rockers Red Lotus and the Brooklyn-based R&B groups Simplicity and Sadiiya Rock Music. Partnering with Sound of Art, the organization will be curating the garage space to give it a postmodern feel a la Jean Michael Basquiat and Andy Warhol. The organization will also be donating pieces to the weekend's silent auction, in which proceeds go towards the BK Style Foundation as well as amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research. “I love the fact that they give up and coming designers a platform to show their work,” said Lisa Orban, a Brooklyn-based clinical psychologist who volunteers for the foundation working with the auction. “They give an opportunity to really showcase talent, a lot of them young, dedicated, and working in Brooklyn. They just take fashion to a whole other level.” Indeed, the foundation brings their show to a whole other level this year, as they partner with Toll Brothers, developers of Northside Piers, a new mixed-use development on the waterfront of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, to hold the catwalk in the building’s garage space, unprecedented for the foundation, and untypical of the traditional tent event. “It's in a gorgeous open space. I thought it would be a great fit,” said Shirley Jaffe, vice president of Toll Brothers' development team, which includes RD Management and L&M Equities. “Williamsburg is very fashion forward.” Previously the space had been used to house a performance of “Tosca” by the Opera Company of Brooklyn, and the developers have also commissioned Williamsburg-based artist Mark Gibian to create a sculpture for the property's public pier, opening this spring. To view photos of past seasons of BK Fashion Week{end}, log onto www.bkfashionweekend.com.

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