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Fashion showcase opens downtown

Fifth annual StyleWeek Northeast provides bold forum for budding designers

Emerging fashion designers will flaunt their new pieces in runway shows, showcases and a competition at StyleWeek Northeast, which started Monday at the Biltmore Hotel downtown.

Rosanna Ortiz Sinel, president and founder of StyleWeek, started the event in 2009 with hopes of “connecting buyers and press with emerging design talent,” according to StyleWeek’s website.

Elisa Iacono-Mears, vice president and managing director of StyleWeek, said Sinel recognized a designer community that lacked a forum for showcasing its work and identified an opportunity for fashion to flourish in Providence. “Providence really embraces art and culture. Residents are more willing to take risks away from the traditional conservative style of New England,” said StyleWeek’s Public Relations Director Shawn Simmons, citing the “bold and exciting looks” of the event.

Sinel’s original idea was to foster the design community through a networking cocktail party open only to members of the press and buyers for fashion stores, Iacono-Mears said. But since then, StyleWeek has expanded into an event open to the public.

“We want (StyleWeek) to be an experience rather than just people walking around and mingling,” Simmons said.

The event also features the SEED fashion show, a student designer competition Jan. 30. This year, most student designers hail from schools in Massachusetts, but the show has previously included RISD designers, Iacono-Mears said.

Students “have the opportunity to work in an environment you can only really see in New York,” Iacono-Mears added.

“I was once a student interested in fashion,” Iacono-Mears said. “I had a wonderful boss who was my mentor, so I see that as my responsibility to do the same for all the wonderful students who are working for us.”

She added the most impressive part about the event is seeing designers progress in the industry after participating in StyleWeek.

As part of a planned expansion, StyleWeek has also held events in Miami and Boston.

StyleWeek events have varying prices, with a student discount for all events. StyleWeek runs from Jan. 27 to Feb. 2 at the Biltmore.


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