By Lauren E. Williams, Special to The AFRO

As members of the fashion community flocked to major cities such as New York City, Milan and Paris to see upcoming Spring and Summer 2019 collections, Washingtonians had the opportunity to see new couture right in their own backyard with D.C. Fashion Week (DCFW). Held for the last 29 years in venues across the District, DCFW brings together the DMV’s finest movers and shakers, international, national and local designers and budding fashionistas for a multi-day fashion extravaganza.

The DCFW Spring and Summer 2019 presentation was held September 19-23. The marathon moda event started with a D.C. press party in Crystal City, Virginia and ended with a star-studded international couture showing at the Embassy of France in Georgetown.

This model is donning a Modcloth dress. (Courtesy Photo)

“As a designer, I saw there wasn’t a platform for local designers to launch their fashions to a fashion community,” DCFW Founder and designer, Ean Williams, told the {AFRO} on September 23. “Most of the local fashion media focused on other city markets and did not feature local designers. The other existing platforms were extremely costly for designers to participate in and were not convenient for local designers.”

With this in mind, DCFW was born. DCFW is a non-profit partnership of independent fashion designers, producers and models committed to increasing awareness through events and programs. Presentations of fall/winter and spring/summer collections are held twice per year.

According to Williams, DCFW is now the largest media covered fashion event in the Washington area. The event has won the ‘Best Tourist Attraction for Small Business,’ and is strongly supported by the Muriel Bowser Administration. This year’s sponsors included Sprite, Events D.C. and T Mobile.

Though the event has grown – and expanded to include designers from across the globe – DCFW remains a key platform for new designers.

“I participated in D.C. Fashion Week because it provides a platform for designers to gain exposure and tap into another audience that they may not have reached yet,” new designer, Iran Paylor, told the AFRO via email after showing at the NextGen Designer Fashion Showcase on September 20 at The Living Room.

“The inspiration was comfortable, but traditional clothing that men can lounge in but also wear to the beach with their swim Speedo’s under and transition from the pool to the beach bar,” Paylor continued when describing his first collection.  “I wanted to create a male line in contrast to the women’s cover ups that they wear over their swimsuits, this way men are able to receive the same coverage when needed to obtain access at the different resort diners and bars where you must have a shirt or top as a male.”

Several local designers have started at DCFW and gone on to show in New York City and other larger cities and platforms. Conversely, national brands are coming to DCFW to build exposure.

Modcloth, a national online retailer which opened a D.C. storefront in August 2018, presented for the first time at the DCFW finale and international show. “We are all about vintage fashion and size inclusivity,” said a Modcloth representative during the show.

Other designers featured during the finale include Corjor International, Ellen London, Sierra Mitchell, and the Molato Project.

Williams is already planning for the next event in February 2019.  In the fashion industry before one fad is over another is already beginning. But, with Williams’ non-profit-D.C. Fashion Week- the District will be ready for the next trend.