Female Designers at the Forefront of Boston Fashion Week

Colleen Secaur and Ellen O’Donnell

Boston is a city synonymous with education and steeped in centuries of history, so associating Boston with fashion may come as an afterthought to most New England residents. However, at the opening event of the 24th anniversary of Boston Fashion Week, on October 1st, local trendsetters and designers were front and center. Setting off six days of fashion festivities with a panel titled “The Power of Women, the Future of Boston Fashion,” was an eerily timely way to make an important statement and put local female designers at the forefront.

Before the show itself, a short film was presented, highlighting each of the designers (Melina Cortes-Nmili of Lalla Bee, Gina deWolfe of deWolfe Leather Goods, Meghan Doyle of Tallulah and Poppy, Joelle Fontaine of I am Kréyol, Graciela Rivas Leslin of Graciela Rivas Collection, and Cecile Theulin of Simone Simon Collection) and their individual achievements and struggles as fashion designers and entrepreneurs. Cortes-Nmili sums this up perfectly, stating, “As a woman, as a mother, as a wife, it’s very difficult to be an independent designer. If we expect to make any money at all, we have to be entrepreneurs.”

All six designers displayed very different collections, from mimes with berets and balloons, to vibrant floral numbers, to flowy dresses in earthen tones, complete with each model carrying a protest stand. Jay Calderin, the founder and executive director of Boston Fashion Week, was nothing if not supportive. “Boston Fashion Week’s main goal has always been for young designers to have a platform to showcase their work. And this theme could not be more fitting. I have learned so much from and have always been inspired by women.”  In 2018, local fashion has become more progressive, inclusive, and female-centric, which is clearly reflected at Boston Fashion Week. Throughout the next six days, event goers can expect a range of different exhibitions and installations, including but not limited to screenings, panels on “glamorous women”, plus-size fashion mixers, and dinners centered around female entrepreneurs, most of which are free. Boston Fashion Week went through the 6th of October.