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Runway Tulsa brings new life to fashion scene

Designers of haute couture and fashionistas alike are getting the chance to shine as Tulsa continues to move up the social ladder. The Runway Tulsa fashion show was back in town with all the latest from the world of fashion.

The week, however, is about more than a model’s walk, makeup and outfits. Its goal is to develop a strong foundation in Tulsa and build a new industry while adding to the city’s art scene. This past week Tulsa hosted its second annual Runway Tulsa fashion show featuring local and national designers. The week included fashion and educational events and runway shows.

Friday evening at the Cox Convention Center downtown, Clary Sage College featured student collections on the Clary Runway. It was an eclectic show featuring collections from both alumni and current students.

Chloe Emmanuel, student designer, pulled inspiration from her dance history, saying, “I wanted something futuristic that pulls movement, doesn’t restrict your ability to move freely and feels comfortable when wearing it.”

She captured the futuristic part with jewelry made from the inside of a calculator. Her extraterrestrial-themed outfit and makeup captured the audience’s attention while she strutted down the runway in her own creation.

Emily Frank, a local model, gave insight as to the atmosphere of backstage.

“It’s hectic,” Frank said. “We have to do really quick changes back to back and then get back in line to go.”

Friday night was filled with fashion, raffles, auctions and fun.

Saturday night was the fashion week finale at the Cox Business Center Assembly Hall. The night was brought to life by local emcee, Chera Kimiko. Designers from Los Angeles, Kansas City, New York and Tulsa displayed their creations. Models clothed in everything from casual wear to eccentric ball gowns strutted the runway.

Joshua Christensen, former “Project Runway” season 9 competitor, contributed his “Sugarcoated” collection, which made a fun and playful statement. The models featured vibrant pastels and fun patterns from his vivacious collection complimented by hot pink, gray, and purple hair, including facial hair.

Local designer Nikki Warren also made an appearance. Warren is the owner of Manifesting Our Creative Hidden Abilities (MOCHA) Butterfly, a brand dedicated to creating designs to give the women of Tulsa the freedom to express their individuality.

Another Tulsa designer, K. Nicole showcased designs featuring feminine and flirty styles. Her creations can be found at K. Nicole Boutique.

“It is an honor and a privilege to be shaping the fashion climate of this city,” said Alexis Monsanto, a Los Angeles fashion designer.

His elegant formal wear and fun beachwear were displayed in the final collection to be shown on Saturday, and he left the crowd amazed.

The finale ended with cheering from the audience. If it wasn’t apparent before, then it is now: Tulsa is ready for more culture in their community as Runway Tulsa left a lasting impression on the local designers and aspiring fashion population.

Student walks runway

Connor Freese, ORU senior business major, participated in the show as a model. He began modeling a year ago after a friend’s modeling journey inspired him. He found out he enjoyed the fashion industry and began his career.

He signed with Linda Layman, a modeling agency who signs young hopefuls in the Tulsa area. Runway Tulsa has been his biggest walking experience so far.

He worked for several designers, including Monsanto. Freese modeled a Speedo-like swimsuit in a walk.

“It was interesting,” said Freese. “Whenever [Monsanto] told me what I was going to wear I was like, ‘That’s it?’ He went on and said, ‘You just have to own it.’”

Follow Freese’s modeling journey on Instagram: @macaroni_n_freese.