Posted by: Dan – Jul 20, 2012
Here I was, called forth from what would have surely been another night of post-holiday recovery, to this new event in our small city, which had been done only once before tonight. David, my old host from Amuse, greeted Dan Mulrooney and I at the door, and in satirical fashion, reminded us that there IS in fact a dress code. As we found the gap in the bar and awaited our first drinks, we were quickly brought up to date by Todd, owner of Selba and creator of Selba Lounge; the restaurant's offshoot event night, which hosts many talents-in-waiting. This particular night featured two vendors, two stylists, two designers, and five models (two female and three male). None of the models were literally androgynous--to have this affirmed as we received our drinks was humbling.
Anticipation was ringing through the crowd as the models, poised in steadfast resolve, practiced their walks, faces, and demeanor for the show. Then, before the show even began at 10:30, a volley of strange beings and beautiful women in their own costumes and make-up suddenly paraded to and fro--Selba is now packed with people. The Master of Ceremonies for the evening was Steven Ramirez, VCU grad and local owner/creator of R.A.I.N. (Richmond's Armada Intelligence Network). In the last few years, R.A.I.N. has emerged as one of Richmond's preeminent fashion agencies. Its modus operandi is that of a fashion web that seeks to bring up local designers, stylists, and models to strengthen the scene from within, thereby “transitioning a new era for the Richmond Local Fashion Scene.”
Having very little notion of what to expect from this whimsical evening, these two reporters submitted to a flurry of possibilities. As it turned out, there was not just one runway; the models permeated every vein of the restaurant, stopping at corner booths for poses and photos. We sat and drained our martinis, raising gulps of Bombay to the models in oversized bow-ties and weird veils who stopped and turned at our booth to oblige our curiosity. There was a great diversity of fashion, owing to the imaginations of the team of stylists and designers: Brie El Davis, London, Nyki McCann, and Shanon Floretta. Two models graced the runway at a time, one male and one female – which was which, however, is up for speculation. Make no mistake, this was one of the strangest and most disorienting experiences we've had. The androgynous nature of the whole thing left us bewildered, and brimming on sensory overload. At the heart of the production, a line of unmistakably Tim Burton-esque styles emerged, lending a dark, mysterious touch to the evening.
This being R.A.I.N.'s second Selba Lounge production, we were surprised by the poise and organization of it all. Not to mention the fact that Selba's waitstaff managed to weave through the active runway in order to accommodate a still-bustling restaurant.
After the production, we sat down with a nearly panting Steven Ramirez and asked him if he thought his hard work had paid off. “I think it was a really great evening, and we had a great turnout," he said. "For our next event we'd really like to have some more models, though. At the last Selba Lounge event we had 10; tonight we were down to five.”
During the hectic comedown of the show we were able to find two of the models near the bar, and asked to speak with them. The first, Uros, was happy to oblige, and stepped away from his group for some vital questions. Uros had been in the first show, and he remarked that he was genuinely pleased with how the night had turned out. From the professionalism and organization exhibited, most we spoke to would agree on this fact. A long conversation with one of the female models, Nicolette, gave additional hope for the next events that R.A.I.N and Selba Lounge will coordinate. This show was her first with R.A.I.N., and she was eager to explain the complex team that brought the unified vision into fruition tonight. She remarked that the local fashion scene is indeed growing, with more artists, designers, and stylists working together and trading events and promotion to galvanize and support separate but linked ambition.
R.A.I.N.'s next production is scheduled for Thursday, September 6 at Selba Lounge. Designers Britte Sebastian, Jarret Bardley, Eliz Nguyen, Kristin Griffin, Yandeh Sallah-Muhammad will collaborate with Rumors boutique to usher in the new school year with a “Back to School” themed show.
Words by Dan Mulrooney and Brian Riley. Photos/video by Todd Raviotta