Boston becomes Fashion-forward

This is a look from the show at Cylcorama.

Wherever it is on the globe, Fashion Week isn’t Fashion Week without a bit of swank. Boston Fashion Week’s Opening Night Gala, last Thursday, launched with Nordstrom showcasing in The Tent and continued with an after-party at the Mandarin Oriental, Boston. We said swank.

Unlike Fashion Week in, say, New York, London, Paris or Milan, Boston’s version isn’t media- and buyer-oriented and doesn’t look several months ahead. Nordstrom, for instance, presented ready-to-wear now: fall through winter.

“Boston Fashion Week is different. The customers who shop for clothes are our main audience,” says BFW founder Jay Calderin, who is the director of creative marketing at Boston’s School of Fashion Design. “Media and buyers are here, but we’re mostly connecting directly with the consumer.”

Though Calderin started BFW in 1995 to galvanize and promote New England designers — in order to be bigger and more vital — its scope is now worldwide. The Emerging Trends show at Cyclorama on Saturday showed capsule collections from 11 diverse designers from the U.S., Poland, Ireland, the U.K. and Canada. 

Fun was the watchword as designs ranged from New York-based Christine Manthey’s elegant flowing silks, sultry black lace paneling, juxtaposed prints and harem pants to the urbane brutalism of Tamara G. at Poland’s Trash, whose trademark gorilla glared from punky micro-minis and bone-skimming lycra outfits covered in an op-art third-eye pattern.

The Launch show, which ended the opening weekend’s Tent events, is where Boston Fashion Week looks to the future and stays wholly local. It showcased five recent outstanding graduates from regional fashion design programs.

“What gets me excited is the new generation,” says Calderin. “They are really experimenting; they’re a year or two away from launching a collection. We get to see the new talent.”

What is Boston fashion?

“New York is sporty, all-American; London is rebellious and experimental; Paris is couture and classic,” Calderin says. “Boston is intellectual, academic, scientific. It’s preppy, but with an edge.”

If you go

BFW 2012 continues through Saturday. For more info, visit


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