Omaha's becoming a fashion town -
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A model wears a Dan Richters design while members of the performance art group, Aetherplough add to the piece during Avant-garde night of Omaha Fashion Week at the Kaneko on Tuesday.(CHRIS MACHIAN/THE WORLD-HERALD)


Omaha's becoming a fashion town
By Cara Pesek

Check out all our Omaha Fashion Week coverage at

See more photos:

Photo Showcase: Omaha Fashion Week, Day 3

Photo Showcase: Omaha Fashion Week, Day 2

Photo Showcase: Omaha Fashion Week, Day 1

People react to the fashions on display during Avant-garde night of Omaha Fashion Week on Tuesday. The growing popularity of the event shows that Omahans are interested in fashion, organizers say. CHRIS MACHIAN/THE WORLD-HERALD.

A Fashion Town

On Aug. 2, dozens of women (and a few men) gathered at Borsheims.

Some women wore gowns. Most carried Omaha Fashion Week swag bags (though those didn't last long). Near the store entrance, Kirby Keomysay of Kontempo Salon swept their hair into soft updos. Across the room, Alyssa Dilts, a modeling coach and owner of Develop Model Management, demonstrated to the women how to pose for the red carpet (the formula: shoulders back, chest out, tailbone tucked, one foot forward, weight on front foot and, of course, a smile.)

The event was aimed at getting Omaha ready for Omaha Fashion Week (and for the event's red carpet), said OFW producer Brook Hudson.

Hudson said she was tired of hearing from people that they weren't interested in style or weren't “fashion people.”

“If you're wearing clothes, you're a fashion person,” she said.

Whether or not they're fashion people, more and more Omahans are getting involved with Omaha Fashion Week, which kicked off Monday with children's clothing collections and ends Saturday with a finale featuring the best looks of the week. Participating this year are more than 40 designers, 400 models, dozens of hair and makeup artists, plus stylists, interns and volunteers. A nine-member selection panel chose this year's designers and advised them in the months leading up to this week.

In total, Hudson handed out more than 1,000 backstage passes to this year's Omaha Fashion Week, and thousands of people will sit in the audience during the six-day event.

Omaha, it turns out, is becoming a fashion town.

Some designers, like Dan Richters, who makes ethereal, sculptural garments out of Latex; Erin Thomas of the earthy (and skimpy) swimwear line Toxic Sadie, and women's wear designer Buf Reynolds have returned year after year and developed followings (and all three will show at the Saturday night finale).

New designers like Chad Carr, of the revived Omaha swimwear brand Leggoons and JLynn Hausmann, of the LA-based premium denim line JHaus, have used Omaha Fashion Week as a place to launch national collections.

“They put on such a great show,” said Hausmann, who looked at several fashion shows in the Midwest before deciding to launch in Omaha.

Hudson said that since Omaha Fashion Week was founded in 2008, the quality has continued to improved, and this year saw one of the biggest jumps. She attributes that to stricter entry guidelines and the guidance of the selection panel.

“It's always nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of,” said Meghann Schense, a stylist on the panel who said she helped several designers fine-tune their collections over the summer.

Nick Hudson, founder of Omaha Fashion Week (and husband of Brook) said that continual improvement of the garments was gratifying to see.

The show is becoming better rounded, too, he said. In previous years, organizers struggled to find children's designers, he said. This year, there were six.

Nick Hudson said he believes Omaha is enjoying the evolution of Fashion Week. But the fashion is only part of what draws the crowd.

“People enjoy having a party,” he said.

A model wears a Dan Richters design while members of the performance art group, Aetherplough add to the piece during Avant-garde night of Omaha Fashion Week at the Kaneko on Tuesday.

Does Omaha have a style?

Personal style can be classic, relaxed, fashion-forward, severe, eclectic, bohemian, or one of a thousand other adjectives. It can also evoke a sense of place, like Paris or New York.

Does Omaha have a distinct style? Is there a way of dressing that personifies Omaha? Has anyone ever described anyone's appearance as being “soooo Omaha,” and if so, what did that mean? We asked five designers, stylists and others associated with Omaha Fashion Week to see what they thought:

JLynn Hausmann, founder (and designer) of premium denim line JHaus (see her line on Friday and Saturday during Fashion Week.)

“I would describe it as real,” said Hausmann, who grew up in Butte, Neb., attended college at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and now lives in Los Angeles.

While she's never lived in Omaha, Hausmann said a recent dinner in the Old Market was great for people watching. Much of what she saw was both laid back and fashion-forward.

“People don't try hard, and that's great. I just love the style and the feel of that.”

Brook Hudson, producer of Omaha Fashion Week

“Comfortable and genuine, but I think this little seed had been planted,” said Hudson, who has run the twice-annual show for the past year and a half.

Hudson herself is partial to timeless, classic styles with a hint of romance — good draping, soft fabrics and maybe a touch of sparkle.

Nick Hudson, founder of Omaha Fashion Week (and husband to Brook)

Brook and Nick Hudson

“Like a Kinder Egg,” said Hudson, referring to the chocolate eggs with a surprise inside that are popular in Europe and Canada (but, sadly, outlawed in the U.S. because the toy inside is deemed a choking hazard). Hudson said Omahans dress for comfort — jeans, Husker tees, flip flops — but that they will occasionally surprise with bold colors or big accessories. “There's this Husker-wearing person with cool thoughts in there.”

Audra McAvaddy, designer (Audra McAvaddy for Coriander will be featured on Friday night)

“For those who are passionate about style, I think there's a strong vintage feel,” said McAvaddy, who creates bright, textured garments out of mostly vintage and second-hand fabric. McAvaddy said she suspects the best is yet to come in terms of Omaha's style. “I feel like it's only now awakening.”

Cora Rasp, stylist (and founder of Coriander, which McAvaddy is designing for this fall)

“Casual work wear with hand-crafted elements,” said Rasp, who lives in jeans and button-down tops, often vintage.

Among her friends, '90s-inspired trends like stone wash, neon and floral prints, are popular, as are country-inspired elements — gingham and boots paired with on-trend high-waisted shorts, for example.

And Omaha guys definitely care about how they look, she said. “Some of the guys I hang out with are way more intentional than the women.”

As she did at the 2011 event, designer Buf Reynolds will show a collection during Saturday's finale of Omaha Fashion Week. DANIELLE BEEBE/THE WORLD-HERALD.

The Schedule

So far, designers of children's clothing, swimwear, bridal gowns and Avant-garde fashion have shown their collections at Omaha Fashion Week. But the biggest nights — eveningwear, daywear and the finale showcasing the best designs of the week — are still ahead.

This year, the Saturday night finale will feature small collections of three or so garments each by emerging designers chosen by the Omaha Fashion Week selection panel for their promise, said OFW Producer Brook Hudson.

The finale also will feature guest designer Travor Rains, one of the founders of Heatherette, which has been worn by the likes of Madonna and Mariah Carey (Rains will also speak at Creighton University Friday at 2 p.m. The talk is free and open to the public, though a reservation is required at

Here is the schedule and designer list for the remaining nights. To buy tickets or for more information, visit


When: Thursday, Kaneko,

1111 Jones St. Doors open at 6 p.m., show begins at 8 p.m.

Bertiher De La Cruz

Buf Reynolds

Fella Vaughn for Fella

Juantiesha Christian for SuShe by J. Tracy

Kate Walz for Just Because

Lameesha Stuckey for Stylishly Chic

Leah Casper for Casper Couture

Williams Torres for WILL STYLE


When: Friday, Kaneko, 1111 Jones St. Doors open at 6 p.m., show begins at 8 p.m.

Audra McAvaddy for Coriander

Eliana Smith

Kaitlyn Fitzgerald for KAIT Blu

Masey Rost

JLynn Hausmann for JHaus

Shamina Wiek for Pastel GROOVE House


When: Saturday, outside on Jones Street between Ninth and 11th Streets. Doors open at 6 p.m., show begins at 8 p.m.

Angela Balderston for Get Plastered

Audio Helkuik

Leah Casper, Casper Couture

Buf Reynolds

Dan Richters

Eliana Smith

Ellene McClay for FORTRESS

Fella Vaughn for Fella

Hollie Hanash for Ruffled Runway


Kate Walz for Just Because

Jessica Hansen for Jessica Alyse



Maximillian Suiter for Max Millian

Terri Jen Buckner for Nuevintage Apparel & Accessories

Tiffany Headley for Donna Faye

Erin Thomas for Toxic Sadie

Travor Rains for T. Rains

Emerging designer micro collections:

Elizabeth Medina

Emely Valadez

Lauren Birkentall

Jeff Hansen

Kaitlyn Fitzgerald

One model exits the runway as another enters as they show the Ellene McClay for FORTRESS line during Avant-garde night of Omaha Fashion Week at the Kaneko on Tuesday. CHRIS MACHIAN/THE WORLD-HERALD.

The Afterparty

After Saturday night's Omaha Fashion Week finale, which will feature more than 100 looks from 40 designers on a two-block outdoor runway on Jones Street, Ethan Bondelid is guessing at least some of the 4,000 expected spectators and 1,000 models, stylists and other volunteers will be ready to celebrate.

So he and the other owners of House of Loom — the sponsor of OFW's official after party — are going all out.

All week, designers and other behind-the-scenes contributors to the event have gathered at House of Loom to unwind post-show.

“It has always been there to promote the creative class,” he said of the club.

But for the finale party, Bondelid has something bigger in mind.

The party will be across the street from Loom in the old Burlington Train Station, 925 S. 10th St., which has an interior that more closely resembles a warehouse than a historic building. The Loom staff is bringing in couches, cabanas, porta potties, fans and a full bar to warm up the space.

There will be DJs (Brent Crampton, another Loom owner, along with DJ Kethro), dancing and drinks, as well as bottle service, for those in an especially celebratory mood.

There is also a theme, which Bondelid is keeping under tight wraps.

“We just want people to show up,” he said. “You're transported to a whole other landscape.”

The event is open to those 18 and older, and cover is $15 for minors and $10 for those 21 and over.

Contact the writer: Cara Pesek    |   402-444-4052    |  

Cara writes about nightlife -- bars, clubs, karaoke, and other places people go to have a good time -- as well as fashion, pop culture and trends.

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