This weekend, I walked in my first professional fashion show.
The experience was more than a stretch out of my comfort zone. Those who know me well know that I’m far from a fashionista. I was the type to don bright red Mexican skirts with dogeared Converse shoes in high school. I’m proud to announce that I no longer do that, but I still wouldn’t consider myself up to par in style in comparison to some of my friends.
So when my Latina.com editors asked if I’d be interested in not only covering the inaugural LATINISTA Fashion Week 2013, but walking in it, I was all for it.
Created by Dee & Co Group and ICOLLECTIONS SHOWS, the fashion/beauty event featured the work of upcoming Dominican-born accessory designer Alfredo Vizcaino and award-winning designer Daniel Hernandez. The show was sponsored by IMAN Cosmetics.
For me, LATINISTA Fashion Week 2013 was an opportunity to view a fashion show from the inside out – so hell yea, I was going to do it. Preparations for the event began a week prior to the show, at a fitting where I met with Dee Rivera (the head of Dee & Co Group) and Vizcaino, who I was going to walk for. The young designer's vibrant and warm personality made me feel very comfortable with this whole thing – and when he showed me his fierce jewelry, I was more than instantly drawn. I was sold.
Fast forward to Saturday and I woke up at an unlawful time of the day – at about 7:30 am. The models were asked to show up at the venue with clean hair, a clean face – and bikini-ready. That all takes time, so I spent my morning getting my hair pulled mercilessly at my local Dominican salon.
From there, I ran to the city with my burning scalp in search of stilettos, which I also had to bring to the show. I didn’t own a pair, because I strongly believe that heels are instruments of torture that, yes, make your ass look great, but aren't worth the pain they cause. Also, I'm tall as it is and don't want to be likened to the female version of the Jolly Green Giant.
Still, I understood that you have to look the part and was lucky to have found a great pair right away. I headed to the show’s site, which took place inside Manhattan's TIME Hotel. Not before I ate some pizza. As I stared down at my oven-baked greasiness, I hesitated for a second. "Amaris," I thought to myself, "you're about to wear something form-fitting. Perhaps pizza isn't the best choice right now." I finally decided that, yes, the greasiness was worth it. It was still hours before the show, and my nerves had begun their descent in my system, so pizza would provide some comfort. (Side note: I have this weird quirk where I feel pangs of pain at five-minute intervals under my fingernails whenever I'm nervous. It had already begun at that point).
Satisifed with my pizza slice, I headed to the hotel, where I met with madness. Literally. It was the most organized type of madness, though. In one room, there were models lounging around, engulfed in their iPhones – some with their hair and makeup already done, others still fresh-faced. In another, a room filled with makeup artists fully concentrated on models' faces.
I was introduced to makeup artist Scott Alexander. Alexander and I chatted about everything from our careers to Beyonce - I'm a huge fan - Alexander, not so much. Some time, BB cream application, and multiple eye shadow tones later, and I was magically transformed into an Amaris I did not recognize. I loved my new look – a fierce blue smoky eye with nude lip.
I then moved on to hair – all of Vizcaino’s models were wearing high/tight ponytails to show off his jewelry – a collection of everything from claw necklaces to body chains to brass shoulder pieces. Vizcaino's line was titled ‘Birds of Paradise.’
Vizcaino's pieces screamed at me, some from inside their plastic bags. At my fitting with the designer a few weeks ago, we tried on different ones until Vizcaino decided his “magnificent necklace” would work best on me – a piece made up of 24K gold plated metal and faceted oval opal crystals.
Alfredo Vizcaino was in the zone before his show began on Saturday. I don't know how he managed under the stress. LATINISTA Fashion Week 2013 was the designer's second show. The designer's line was inspired by Birds of Paradise, exotic birds that hail from New Guinea. "Since its fall/winter, I'm going to have a lot of feathers, a lot of opal crystals and Swarovski, and a lot of beautiful stones," Vizcaino told me at the show's launch party last Friday. Vizcaino, along with friend/stylist Jeffrei Guerra, didn't stop for a moment's rest before the show.
Though the show's preparations caused me to be a bit of a nervous wreck, most of my fellow models were cool under the pressure. Before the show, I tried engaging in conversation with a cluster of them and asked if they were nervous before the show. A few shook their heads nonchalantly - of course, they've done this a million times before. And, boy, were they ready for the camera. It was difficult to snap candid photos of them because some would catch me first and purse their lips, arrange their footing for the shot, and pose perfectly. Amazing - it's engrained in them.
The dress all the models had on was short, white, and very snug – the perfect blank canvas to display Vizcaino’s work, though one I didn't feel the most comfortable in. I wouldn't consider myself overweight, but I don't have the body of the typical model either. I was lucky that Vizcaino worked with me to make me feel more comfortable. He brought this gorgeous dress from his cousin's line, which made me feel like runway material.
Finally, the moment arrived to walk. Above are some of Vizcaino's models right before they took the stage. Because I was a guest model, I walked last. It's hard to describe the moment I stepped in front of the crowd and began walking down the runway. The lights were blinding, and as I trembled my way down the runway, my lips both froze and quivered with nerves. All the while, I heard people whispering and commenting on my dress, the rings I had on. I spent weeks fretting over this moment, and when it came down to it, it felt like it lasted only five seconds. The moment came and went. I turned from side to side at the end of the runway, and turned around with an attitude I didn't own on a regular basis. I strutted as best as I could.
As soon as I reached the curtains to the backstage area, I nearly collapsed onto another model, shaking and smiling. It was over. I walked in my first fashion show and didn't trip once. I didn't forget to turn to both my right and left sides to give the overwhelming number of cameras a glimpse of the jewelry I had on. I didn't forget to smile slightly. I did it. And, as soon as I could, I removed my stilettos and wiggled my tired feet. I stayed in the dress as long as I could, though, and took my sweet time removing my beautiful and borrowed jewelry. I was back to being Amaris, and I couldn't wait to see my cousin and friends, who were patiently waiting for me after the show.
Though I haven't seen my walk on camera yet, I think I did okay.
Especially as a first-time "fashion model."