Salt City Style Takes the Runways

Syracuse Fashion Week starts Wednesday, April 8

Fashion, food, art, hair, makeup and music will join forces, tied together by the local thread that binds it all, during the second annual Syracuse Fashion Week, which starts Wednesday, April 8.

“We want people to realize the boutiques we have here,” says hair and makeup coordinator Shannon Fleming. “I think we (Syracuse) were hidden in fashion. But after the first year of Fashion Week, we proved that people want to see fashion and want to be involved.”

Syracuse Fashion Week is headed by Lisa Butler, executive director and founder. This year’s showcases will feature styles ranging from gowns to Fleet Feet workout gear, and venues ranging from the Landmark Theatre to Marisa’s Fortress of Beauty.

But the key is not in the differences: It’s in the similarities and the unifying goal, with the Food Bank of Central New York receiving some of the proceeds. “It’s exciting that we get to cut a check at the end of it all and give it to hungry people in Syracuse,” Fleming says. “It makes all the stress worth it.”

That stress includes plenty of logistical issues. “It’s a lot of work coordinating the models, the food, the designers, the outfits,” Fleming emphasizes. “I have 10 hair and 10 makeup girls I organize for each night. We work with the designers to create the look, matching hair and makeup to the clothing.”

A model at the Opening Night Gala of Syracuse Fashion Week in 2014

A model at the Opening Night Gala of Syracuse Fashion Week in 2014

Although that “look” only spends a few moments on the runway, Fleming notes that it’s about much more than that. “I did the Los Angeles and Las Vegas fashion weeks (in 2010),” she says of her experience doing hair for those events. “It’s crazy. There’s a million models backstage, hair and makeup in every corner. You felt smaller looking at your work. But Syracuse is a tight-knit family. People notice what you do a little more. We’ve built a good crew here because of that.”

Fashion Week kicks off Wednesday, April 8, with an opening night “buy local” celebration starting at 7 p.m. at Small Plates, 116 Walton St., featuring area boutiques and designers. This event, with food, a cash bar and music, is $25 per ticket, $40 for VIPs. On Thursday, April 9, 7:30 p.m., the Redhouse Arts Center, 201 S. West St., offers a runway fashion show featuring sporty and casual clothes. Tickets are $25.

Things get more risqué on Friday, April 10, 8 p.m., when the Underground Show at Marissa’s Fortress of Beauty, 220 Walton St., presents lingerie, accessories and jewelry, not to mention a live sushi model, belly dancing, music and retail vendors. Admission is $30. Next comes the classy Fashion Week Gala on Saturday, April 11, 8 p.m., at the Landmark Theatre, 362 S. Salina St., featuring bridal gowns, formal dresses and men’s wear. Tickets are $50.

A model  at The Underground Show  at Marissa's Fortress of Beauty (2014)

A model at The Underground Show at Marissa’s Fortress of Beauty (2014)

Climaxing the five-day run is the Fashion Week Blowout 2015 Vegas, a hair and makeup competition taking place on Sunday, April 12, 6:30 p.m. The event is presented in conjunction with Moe Harrington and AIDS Community Resources, with proceeds benefiting ACR’s Q Center. Admission is $15.

Fleming, Butler and other members of the Fashion Week committee come up with various themes for each night’s event. “We’ve brought in Carmello’s Ink City for body painting since they do a body painting calendar every year,” Fleming says. “We put the live sushi model at the Underground Show and it was perfect. Even the vending tables have been a hit. We focus on pulling the talent from all these different people in Syracuse. We really want to concentrate on the people out there really doing it and running with it.”

A model at the Opening Night Gala of Syracuse Fashion Week (2014)

A model at the Opening Night Gala of Syracuse Fashion Week (2014)

They also pull people from all sides of the community. Musicians including Just Joe are brought in next to members from the Syracuse Crunch hockey team. “They get more excited about it every year,” Fleming says about the puck-slappers. “You would never think a bunch of big, burly hockey players would be so into Syracuse, especially since none of them are from here. But they take so much pride in the community and in being a part of it. I’m honored.”

Fleming also notes that even as fashions come and go, these events won’t. “We’re here to stay,” she says. “We keep getting bigger and growing and want to keep getting people involved. It all works together.”

The Syracuse Fashion Week committee includes Lisa Butler, Shannon Fleming, Anna Diaz, Alyssa LaFaro, Tom Paxton/Pax Effex, Robyn Gaffney, Tim Butler, James Bass, Danielle Bianco, Dickie Benedetto, Bethany Holbrook and Marisa Fusco.

For tickets and other information, visit

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