Runway Ready: Fashion Week San Diego moves signature event to La Jolla

With the stamp of approval from La Jolla’s Traffic & Transportation (T&T) advisory group for the required street closures, Fashion Week San Diego will move its signature event to La Jolla this year. The two-night fashion show will convert Wall Street between Herschel Street and Girard Avenue into a giant runway, October 2-3.

“It’s an experience you can’t have anywhere else,” said Fashion Week San Diego founder and director Allison Andrews. “Imagine being the first to see these designers up close and personal at the beginning of their careers. There is something so special about that experience.”

Previously held downtown and at Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier, the fashion event presents the collections of 12 designers each night. Andrews said approximately 30 percent of the audience are industry representatives from magazines like Vogue and InStyle, and department stores such as Bloomingdales and Nordstrom.

As Fashion Week San Diego grew in popularity over the last three years (the event started in 2012), Andrews said organizers were looking for a “forever home” for the event.

“We’ve worked in venues, but with venues there are a lot of ‘what ifs’ — what if the venue closes? what if the prices go up? — but if you have the show on a street, that street will always be there,” she said. “Plus, we wanted to create an experience unique to Fashion Week San Diego. La Jolla is beautiful, and it’s a geographical middleground for those who have come to past events and those that come from out of town; it was a natural fit for us.”

Looking to the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York when it was held in Bryant Park (before it moved to the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts in 2010) Andrews said she wants San Diego’s event to have a similar effect. “When the tents would go up in the park, that signaled the start of Fashion Week,” she said. “We want that feeling here, so when the fences go up on Wall Street, La Jollans know its Fashion Week. I believe this will be a signature event that La Jollans will look forward to every year.”

Spectacle aside, Andrews said the quality of designers that show at Fashion Week San Diego helped the event “earn its stripes” in the industry. “I’m very proud of the fact that in such a short time, Fashion Week San Diego has become a place to find the next great designer talent,” she said.

One such example, Scott Rich, received national attention for an outfit he made for this year’s Fashion Week San Diego preview event. After showing the new outfit, Rich loaned it to a friend who was attending the Coachella Music Festival. The outfit was photographed and written about on designer/stylist Rachel Zoe’s online Zoe Report and a photo of the outfit was posted on the New York Times’ Fashion Section’s Instagram account.

Two other new faces on the San Diego fashion scene are La Jolla residents Annaiah Jones and Charlie Yip. Both will have designs in the Fashion Week San Diego runway show for the first time this year.

“I feel fabulous because it’s such a wonderful opportunity,” Jones said. “I was so thrilled they liked my pieces.” Having only shown her Dynamite Doll clothing line through occasional appearances at fashion events and social media, Jones said she looks forward to showing on a runway — and a local one to boot.

Jones’ pieces use fabrics in “bright, glistening, happy colors,” and are cut with clean lines with a bit of quirkiness, such as her glitter skirt collection of skirts over puffy tulle with streaks of shimmery material throughout. “Whenever I get fabric, I want colors that make people happy. I’m always trying to bring lightness to people,” she said. “I made a skirt for a friend’s daughter and when she put it on, she started dancing and twirling. That’s what I want. It’s a beautiful thing for people to be able to express themselves. If my clothes can do that, I’m a happy camper.”

She moved to San Diego in 2008 from Chattanooga, Tennessee where her creativity “hit a ceiling.” She came to La Jolla to visit a friend and became inspired. “I was here for 10 days and in that time I found a place to stay in San Diego and came back three months later,” she said.

Yip, of Charlie Yip Brand, is an economics student at UCSD (also pursuing a minor in studio visual arts) and has only been designing wallets and handbags for one year. “Being a part of one of California’s biggest Fashion Weeks is humbling and exciting,” he said. Yip’s design career started when he

wanted to give his father a nice wallet for Father’s Day last year. “It was hard for me to find something I liked and then to buy something that felt sentimental. I decided to make the wallet and went to a leather store for the raw materials,” he said.

The wallet, Yip admitted, “didn’t work” (the measurements were wrong and it couldn’t fit credit cards) but it lit the spark for Yip to start creating. “I fell in love with designing and working with my hands,” he said. He set up a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for more materials.

His handmade leather products are “minimal and really about form and function in a very modern way,” he said. “Leather-craft is a traditional form of art, but I want to take what I perceive traditional art to be and make it modern through my pieces. There’s a lot of black and white, and natural leather tones.”

The San Francisco native said his pieces help modernize and complement La Jolla’s fashion sense, which he described as “conservative and classy mixed with lots of beachwear and lots of color.”

For those who see designs that “speak to them,” Andrews said there is the opportunity to purchase the pieces at the trunk show following the runway shows.

“When you get to see something or someone before they make it big, it enhances your life — and it makes you proud to see it happen in your own neighborhood,” she said. “It’s wildly entertaining.”