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Fade to Light

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"IT FEELS GOOD that I can offer them something different than the rest," says Elizabeth Mollo.

She's the woman behind the semi-annual Fade to Light fashion show (she also has a hand in many other fashion events in the city and—full disclosure—is a contributing blogger on the Mercury's MOD style blog). As such, Mollo is speaking to the fact that her show asks designers to create a fuller expression of their work than just presenting clothes on a runway. It is the only regularly occurring show that has a video requirement, a short piece meant to kick off each segment of the show, giving the audience a little added value and designers a more dynamic opportunity to connect with potential clients.

"My inspiration comes from my personal life," says Michelle Lesniak, who is showing at Fade to Light for the second time. "Having a video and music made especially for this runway show let me tell the story without having to sit down for story time." And while designers admit that there's extra pressure (not to mention extra work) in fulfilling the show's creative requirements, the benefits weigh out.

"My brand is inspired by a dance, about which most people know very little," points out Poema designer Hannah Louise Poston, whose work is primarily targeted at Argentine tango dancers, and she sees the video as an opportunity to provide added context. Designer Heidi Bergin will be showing Adelheid Bergin, her line of clothing intended for business professionals. Her first time at the event, she sees another advantage of the format: "I have a very practical brand and mission, and the video allows me to convey that message so the audience doesn't place me on the same playing field as the avant-garde."

Speaking of the playing field, it could scarcely be more diverse. Seasons range from current to resort to fall, designers from new to well known, and collections include both menswear and womenswear, laser-cutting experimentation (Emit) and a line (Wandering Muse) that specializes in reversibility. Further proof lies in the list of inspirations Joshua Buck gives for his debut collaboration with Jeanne Tunberg, WWJJD: "glaciers, streetwear, monks, goths, St. Bernard rescue dogs, Looney Tunes, Calvin Klein, and epidemiology."

Fade to Light, Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside, Wed Feb 26, 8 pm, $12-40, all ages

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