The Independent Designer Runway Show kicked off Bellevue Fashion Week last night by showcasing the work of 8 local designers. Each line was original and vastly different from the next. If the show taught us anything, it simply reinforced the age old fashion rule, women just want to shine in their clothes. 

The big winner of the $5,000 cash prize was Phuong Minh Nguyen for her line of wedding dresses Autumn Glamour. For the first time at Bellevue Fashion Week the audience was able to vote for a fan favorite which was Varsha Agarwal for her line of business chic attire Varsha. She also won the runner up prize from the judges.

While the competition was tough, the two winners had standout lines. Nguyen drew inspiration from fall in the Northwest and added red leaves to her gowns that fluttered over the soft layers of white chiffon. Any lady would feel like a princess in these dresses. And here’s the thing. It’s hard to design a truly original wedding gown that’s separates itself from endless clichés but still nods to the traditional elements that, well, make it a wedding dress. It’s a fine line to balance on and Nguyen did it with skill. She started designing wedding dresses when she got engaged and couldn’t find her perfect gown. Now she’s inventing the wheel.

Varsha was perhaps the most wearable line. Agarwal was working as a business consultant when she noticed her colleagues struggling to find dynamic work wear pieces. She went to fashion design school, got her degree and started building a line that’s elegant, flirty, and polished.

The special thing about Agarwal is that her art isn’t just for her. Her line wasn’t simply a display of her talents but her ability to appeal to the modern woman who demands  a lot out of her clothes. There are more women executives today than ever before and there’s no uniform for working women. Varsha is a line for the many, many business women who want to look respectable in front of their colleagues and still show their sense of style and personality. They still want to standout. They still want to shine.

Other highlights included Daniel Ressa’s moody and very Seattle line. He may have reinvented what “grunge” means to the city. The daring colors in the Ro2 line were captivating. But above all, it was fascinating to see these designers try new things .The show proved that this area isn’t afraid of a little sparkle and color. The best part about the IDRS is seeing how the wheels under the local fashion scene are turning. Looks like we’re headed in a good direction.