Seven designers and seven musicians combine in local showcase, spotlighting Salt Lake’s counterculture

More than a year after hosting hip-hop gigs in an alleyway in downtown Salt Lake City, Vishwa Srinivasan helped launch a new cultural enterprise — a celebration of fashion and music that filled the lobby of the Eccles Theater and spilled onto Main Street.

The free Friday night event – Main Street: A Fashion and Music Experience – brought together seven designers and seven hip-hop artists, all based in Utah. The show provided a much needed platform for a strong subsection of Utah culture.

The event was organized by Srinivasan, Marissa Goodman and Marc Daas from Alleyways Amplified, Zach Thomas and Kenneth Ellis from SLC Fashion Show and contributors Kendelle Mapstone and Seth Brown.

Alleyways Amplified, the program Srinivasan launched last year with alleyway hip-hop performances, “has always been about elevating local talent in ways and places you least expect,” Srinivasan said via email. “That goes for creating a parade at the Eccles Theater with the doors open to the main street, where local musicians are dressed in local designer clothes. [clothes]singing a setlist created and curated by the two.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Fashion and hip-hop join forces at the Eccles Theater and spill over to Main Street on Friday, July 21, 2023, for a duo of local fashion designers and voice artists.

The creator/musician couples were: Akomi and Duomie, Hookchute and Gavanni, Sunny Ivy and RSD, Sage Nelsen and Cherry Thomas, The Sew Sew and Lady Infinity, L’Amoure Ferrer and Detzany and Kreate Kollective and Dawn.

The stage in the Eccles Hall was small, with a square runway that briefly took the models and performers outside – where people who couldn’t fit into the crowded hall could also enjoy the show. Inside, the nearly 200 people in attendance filled all the seats and flocked to the stairways and upper-floor balconies to take a look. In front of the stage, eight retro televisions displayed the names of creators and musicians. Vendors were selling wares on an upper floor.

Before the show, backstage was buzzing with energy as models got ready and content creator teams shot behind-the-scenes footage. Music played to energize the public, creators and performers.

Brown said, “The show presented at Eccles represents new institutional support for young artists in Salt Lake, and how this support not only builds these artists’ confidence in themselves, but also establishes credibility for the art that is slowly moving from the outskirts of town to the main streets and cultural core.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Patience Turay showcases the work of The Sew Sew as hip-hop artist Lady Infinity fills the Eccles Theater lobby with sound on Friday, July 21, 2023. The free show that filled the upper-level lobby and balconies drew an outside crowd as models briefly exited, carried by voices.

Model Jessica Begay walked for The Sew Sew and said she was thrilled to be a part of Utah’s growing fashion scene. She took part in the Indigenous Fashion Week show held in April at the Leonardo and found out about Friday’s show through an Instagram call.

Cindy Bithell, who designed the items for The Sew Sew, told The Tribune she started sewing ten years ago, and fashion design followed.

Friday’s event was the first time she had taken part in an actual fashion show with models wearing her looks, she said. Her parade featured the most upbeat decor, with music by Lady Infinity and two dancers on stage.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Tiny Queen helps model Tracey Mapstone prepare for her walk showcasing the work of L’Amoure Ferrer at the Eccles Theater on Friday, July 21, 2023.

“I got more interested in the world of home sewing, where I was just sewing clothes for myself. Over the past three years, I’ve been heavily involved in designing sewing patterns for home sewers,” Bithell said.

Much of Bithell’s work, she said, focuses on minimal or low-waste design. One of her dresses produced no waste. Another was made from leftover threads, sewn together. Two others were multicolored “waste dresses” that looked like rainbows.

“I take any scraps of pieces from dresses or projects that I’ve done, and saved the material, then attach it to thin fabric,” she said.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Model Brady Hamilton presents Sage Nelsen’s work for a mix of fashion and hip-hop at the Eccles Theater on Main Street on Friday, July 21, 2023.

Another dynamic pairing was Cherry Thomas’ performance for designer Sage Nelsen’s line, which included tops, bottoms and a full skirt, made from ties. Model Brady Hamilton, wearing the skirt, carried a fan while walking the runway, stunning the crowd as she worked on her outfit.

Each collection stands out in its own way. Akomi’s line included casual menswear. Hookchute took sportswear and bike gear. Sunny Ivy wore a yellow t-shirt that read “Salt Lake City is an Art City” on one side and “Don’t be fooled” on the back. Detzany sang heartily during L’Amoure Ferrer’s collection, which included a diverse group of models.

The idea for the Main Street show came to Srinivasan, he said, after a conversation with Joshua Jones, director of communications and marketing for The Downtown Alliance. When Srinivasan learned that Thomas was planning to hold a fashion show at the University of Utah, he said they decided it would be a great opportunity to “bridge the gap between fashion and music.”

Planning began in November. Goodman and Mapstone played an “instrumental” role, Srinivasan said, with Goodman acquiring sponsors and leading the marketing (she even named the show), and Mapstone deploying her experience in the fashion industry to help with model coordination, runway design and more.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Singer Gavanni performs at the Eccles Theater on Friday, July 21, 2023, while partnered with fashion designer Hookchute for a free show, titled Main Street: A Fashion and Music Experience.

Organizers were able to build much of the show through open calls, Srinivasan said. In the end, they brought together seven musicians, seven designers, four sponsors, numerous vendors, 82 models – and the Eccles Theater itself – all local.

Goodman wrote that he was very excited about “being able to provide a platform for so many talented people and to open Salt Lake up to creative collaboration across different creative disciplines and communities.”

The event, capturing the energy of a New York fashion show, demonstrated what can happen when designers support each other. He showed how Salt Lake City’s counterculture, bubbling behind more traditional art forms, is alive and eager to be heard.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Singer Detzany fills the Eccles Theater lobby with sound on Friday, July 21, 2023, as models parade down the catwalk to showcase the work of local artists for an event called Main Street: A Fashion and Music Experience. The free show that filled the lobby and upper-level balconies drew an outside crowd as models briefly walked outside, carried by voices.

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