Fashion Week San Diego 2015: “Art and Beauty Behind Fashion” Recap

A recap of the first night of Fashion Week San Diego 2015

It’s hard to imagine anything more picturesque than a poolside view overlooking a sun-soaked string of towering palms and Pacific Ocean waves.

But then you add a floating runway over that pool – constructed for the first time ever – and the historic ambiance of La Valencia Hotel and you’ve got the opening night of Fashion Week San Diego 2015 (FWSD), in all of its glam glory.

The first night of FWSD kicked off with creative energy as thick as the bougainvillea draping the salmon-hued terrace walls – and the “Art and Beauty Behind Fashion” event hosted by Bellus Academy.

With this year’s move north to La Jolla, even native San Diegans can’t help falling a bit more in love with their hometown. As the sky turned a gorgeous pink and the sun set over us, I too realized just how lucky we are to live where we do.

But it’s not just a stunning coastline and superb weather that define San Diego.

Brimming with incredible beauty and design talent, FWSD has become such a special showcase of all that America’s Finest City has to offer the style world at-large.

It is my incredible honor to bring you on-site coverage as this year’s FWSD / NBC 7 Red Carpet Host. And yes, it is as fun and fabulous as you would think. We’re in for an amazing time together!

Did you know Bellus Academy is consistently ranked (both nationally and internationally) as a premier beauty school? With Lynelle Lynch at the helm – a wonderful woman I’ve now had the opportunity to hear from twice – it’s earned the title of “Harvard of Beauty Schools” by “San Diego Magazine.”

I’ve had the privilege of peeking into the Bellus world on a couple of occasions over the past few years, and the sense of camaraderie and importance placed on building an industry that is always growing and effecting change for good are really quite remarkable.

And that spirit definitely carried over into the “Art and Beauty Behind Fashion” event Thursday night.

Attendees enjoyed pre-program drinks in the tiered outdoor space at La Valencia, which looked beyond fantastic, as well as a silent auction, photo booth presented by Wella Professionals and a unique live art painting experience.

The silhouette of a statuesque model – wearing a dress created by A’doreus, FWSD 2014’s Top Designer – was projected onto one of the two canvases flanking her. Artists Beau Hufford and Clarione Gutierrez started with painting around her silhouette, then moved to the other canvas, and eventually covered the entire dress. Truly unique and an exciting creative process to see unfold!

Looking quite dapper, Fashion Week San Diego MC Jeff Krapf opened the program, welcoming guests and introducing FWSD Founder Allison Andrews. Now this is some maternity style to channel, people! Stunning in a slinky blue gown and glittery updo created by special guest Ted Gibson himself, she echoed the important synergy between beauty and fashion in creating a total look.

Bellus Academy Director Brad Quick kicked off the runway portion of the evening, which included looks by both current students and professional educators. Within the first two minutes I was ready to call my stylist and go red! Both the color and styles were beautifully crafted.

From strands long and sleek, to cascading waves, to meticulously sculpted updos – the Bellus talent is real and palpable. And the pride you see beaming from the artists themselves just makes you feel good. Like someone is doing exactly what they were meant to do…and you’re experiencing the marvelous result.

As luck (or seating charts) would have it, I was so delighted to have Gwen Bates of GFash Couture as my front row neighbor. As moms-of-three both enjoying an opportunity to dress up and go out, we immediately bonded. We also got to chat a bit about her excitement to see the other designers’ collections this year – as well as some to-be-expected pre-show jitters. When I asked what she enjoys most about FWSD, she shared how the event has offered her a chance to make invaluable connections. Good luck on Saturday, Gwen! You had me at “over-the-top costume jewelry.”

On my other side was Elodia of Viva La Paz, a Kitson stylist, social media director and blogger, with whom I shared lots of “ooh, love that” exchanges. On that note, can we talk for a second about how totally vibrant the local style and beauty blogger scene is? Our community deserves serious attention and I was thrilled to meet so many of my Instagram style crushes in real life.

After a brief intermission, special guest MC Eden Sassoon – daughter of beauty icon Vidal Sassoon – took the stage. Sharing with the crowd her excitement to be part of something “bigger than ourselves,” she recounted a trip to Swaziland that changed her whole worldview. Seth Maxwell, Founder of The Thirst Project, then joined her to talk about the global water crisis and how the beauty industry can be a part of changing the fact that almost one billion people worldwide still do not have access to clean drinking water.

I loved the emphasis on making a lasting difference tonight. As renowned celebrity stylist Ted Gibson then encouraged Fashion Week guests, he too spoke about – no matter your profession – the need to “change people’s lives every day, because that’s what we’re about.”

Here’s the thing I love about the beauty community (and I’ve seen it time and time again): they’re authentic, incredibly hardworking and genuinely passionate about doing just that – changing lives.
Eden Sassoon coined it tonight “a family by trade.” Dedicated to their craft, they’re always looking to learn and push both their own skills and the industry to the next level. It’s quite enviable, to be honest, to see artists so wholeheartedly committed to their purpose.

Cool side note: Tracey Hughes – the most awarded beauty instructor in the world and eight-time “Best Australian Beauty Educator” winner – was at last night’s event as well, all the way from Australia. I can’t help but feel so proud of how Fashion Week and Bellus Academy attract phenomenal talent from around the world to San Diego.

As a former Manhattanite and devoted “What Not To Wear” fan (and fellow Texan!), I had the time of my life watching Ted, Jason Backe and their artistic team at work. They’ve got a good thing going, because you could just feel the fun and team spirit among them. Not to mention their fabulous creations, all the way from modern lavender pixie (yes – lavender) to a new take on the asymmetrical bob, soft “Jessica Rabbit”-colored waves to Ted’s final celebrity-inspired masterpiece.

What a memorable way to get Fashion Week San Diego 2015 started.

On Friday night, the fashion runway shows begin on an open skyway over Wall Street. I can’t wait to see what’s in store, and look forward to sharing it with you.

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