Saturday I attended a Derby City Fashion Week model call and got an exclusive look at the production team events that were taking place. While my main purpose was to get the scoop on what happens behind-the-scenes at the model call and Sunday's photoshoot, I also auditioned to become a new model representing Louisville in the city's first four-day fashion week.
I arrived at the location for the model call, Carly Rae's House of Blues, shorty before 11 a.m. The first person I spoke with wasMike Bishop, who works alongside Ken Clay Associates to bring lighting, sound, and financial backing to the DCFW production. He's also the brother to Denise Sparks, DCFW's director.
Within half an hour Mike had introduced me to a room full of female models, touting me as a man who would help "blow this thing up; make it big!" Though I was happy just to have the chance to interview some of the models under official pretense, Denise also warned me: "You are a part of this thing now, meaning it is absolutely critical that you work under professional capacity. You can't go having fifteen dates with fifteen models."
I went around the room getting individual feedback from girls who would be burning the runway in another two hours. The general concensus was one of great confidence, and though some the girls had prior modeling experience, even the newest models were more excited than nervous. Some sample quotes:
- "[We] are doing this for the experience, for the pubicity and also just for fun."
- "I watch America's Next Top Model and it shows that, wether you are from a small town or a big city, you can live up to your dream of becoming a model. You have to be yourself, you have to believe in yourself, and you have to show that."
New models are called to walk the runway first, and I was one of them. Sitting in front of the crowd and waiting to make our first—and only—impression of the day is cause for nerves among us chosen. Models would be selected by a panel of six judges including Denise herself and a representative from Cosmo Modeling Agency.
I was not the only male model at the call, but overall the female turnout was substantially thicker. Whosoever is chosen at this call and from previous calls would be called on to wear the designs of local fashion artists in days to come.
The actual mission of the Derby City Fashion Week is to gain valuable exposure for Louisville artists to showcase their designs for potential buyers. It is also an opportunity for local models to step onto the runway, meet new people and represent our city on a national level. It is a vision concieved by Denise Sparks on September of last year. "We are doing this because we want to gain exposure for new designers in Louisville; when I came to this city, I was told there are no designers here, and I wanted to create something that would put this city's talent on the map. Derby City Fashion Week is recognized globally, it is recognized internationally, now we want to see it take off locally."
Sparks sat down with Ken Clay in November and together they agreed to put together DCFW as a non-profit endeavor under the umbrella of Legacies Unlimited, a company Clay owned. "Because of the holidays, we did not begin work on this project until January. We put together in one-and-a half months what other fashion weeks take 2 years just to lay out. Now we have a venue, we have 55 new models to date, production team, hair and makeup staff; even our own website." The website for DCFW  is designed by Hardpress Studios. Denise herself has directed five fashion shows in other cities including Charlotte and Atlanta; now she brings her talent and expertise to Derby City. She also owns her own line of fashion that she designs, SACHHI Design & Couture which caters to boutiques and also some high-end clientel. Information regarding DCFW events, times locations and registration can be found on its website .
Photo: Courtesy Derby City Fashion Week