by Marcus James -
SGN Contributing Writer
When I found myself at the W Hotel on Saturday, June 20 for DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS) /Seattle's summer 2009 show, raising money to benefit HIV/AIDS prevention and research, I immediately fell in love. Downstairs, the lobby was filled with patrons and photographers dressed in their finest, sipping cocktails and sharing in the electricity that was in the air. The theme, "Out of the Closet and into the Living Room," was an amazing idea which made the traditionally uptight gathering more accessible. The V.I.P. lounge upstairs served such exotic drinks as the Rainbowtini and MC Sylvia O'Stayformore's personal suggestion, the electric blue Equalitini.
Three local boutiques were featured at the show: The Finerie (1215 1st Avenue) Veridis (1205 E. Pike St.) and Marqsmen (1083 Bellevue Square). The clothes were brilliant, and many were one-of-a-kind pieces, or from little-known designers from different parts of the world.
The first to show was Veridis. Their collection featured a casual elegance, much in par with Socialistas with an emphasis on yellows and bangles. The jewelry was big, but in no way overpowered the clothing itself - if anything, it was an extension of what the models were wearing.
Next up was Marqsmen, which featured suits and dresses you might find at the Russian Tea Room, or Bungalow Eight in New York. It seemed the theme was Manhattan night life, and there was a mix of utility and formal, and I absolutely fell in love with an amazing black Macintosh trench, and these boutiques are all definitely worth checking out.
The shining star of the evening was the Finerie. The outfits were completely upper-East Side rooftop parties in late summer. The dresses featured casual drops, golds, and clutches used more as accessories than a place to stick your pack of Nat Sherman's. It seemed the call for the evening were stilettos, which was very nice to see, as it has seemed that in the past year or so we've seen nothing but flats, and it was nice to see woman giving in to a sense of elegance with their clothing.
When the show began downstairs in the lobby, there were more clothes from each store than we had seen in the preview (and having very beautiful models circle us in the room was a total plus, and an added plus was the model who was a dead-ringer for Gossip Girl star Leighton Meester). Sylvia was a delight as MC and really brought a lightness to something that could have ended up taking itself way too seriously.
At the end of the night, I spoke with Tanya and Michael of The Finerie. They spoke about affording yourself the sense of exclusivity, and really wanted to focus on "colorful cocktail." Their show featured pieces by James Todd, Aiden Maddox, and Elijah, and they have a black-hooded Iris dress really worth checking out.
We spoke about visibility of Gays through fashion by the kings of couture themselves and the rising stars that are coming up now. Print ads, once showering us with images of June Cleaver, have moved into a direction where complex sexuality is no longer complex. DIFFA is a national organization that has once again shown us that there is more to the world of fashion than just the superficial images that many seem to think it is. I am often surprised by what people don't know about fashion, even though every single one of us live our lives in it every single day. I walked away that night dreaming of revolutions so subtle that you hardly notice them happening until, in the blink of an eye, they have helped to move the entire world toward equality.
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