For Lisa Butler, there’s more to fashion than looking good.
“Fashion is wearable art,” Butler said. “It’s a form of self-expression. Even when you’re not choosing to be fashionable, you’re expressing yourself.”
That’s why she believes fashion shouldn’t be considered frivolous — and why she launched Syracuse Fashion Week. The 2019 event takes place the second weekend in April with three very different shows, all meant to showcase the enormous talent in the Syracuse area. It began as Syracuse Style in 2009, a fall runway show in Armory Square, and has since evolved into a three-day, semi-annual event.
Syracuse Fashion Week came from Butler’s own love of clothing and design. Butler started out in theater, working in costume design at Syracuse Stage and then moving into wedding design. She worked with a number of local designers and started showing off their work.
“I started doing fashion shows just for myself,” she said.
But as she looked around, she saw that, while Rochester and Buffalo had a thriving fashion scene, Syracuse didn’t
“I said, ‘Syracuse needs one,’” Butler said.
Thus Syracuse Style — and ultimately Syracuse Fashion Week — was born. This year’s event includes three shows (“Last year we did five events and we almost died, so we have three events this year,” Butler said): a Spring Fling show on Thursday, the infamous Underground Show on Friday and the popular Gala on Saturday.
The Spring Fling show kicks off the weekend in the intimate setting of the Aloft Hotel in the Inner Harbor, which is a new venue for the event, Butler said.
“Oh, my gosh, what a beautiful venue,” she said. “It’s very colorful and modern.”
Models will walk through the hotel’s lobby for the show, giving patrons a close look at the fashions on display, including accessories and jewelry. This show also features many new local designers whose work is available for sale.
The Underground Show, meanwhile, features more of what Butler calls “fantasy fashions.” This adults-only event is “sexy,” Butler said. “It’s popular with a lot of guys.”
The weekend wraps up with the gala on Saturday at the Landmark Theatre. The designs here range from high-end wearable to high couture custom gowns. This is the biggest show of the weekend.
Proceeds from Syracuse Fashion Week benefit the Food Bank of Central New York.
“Iknew I wanted to raise money for some charity [with the event],” Butler said.
She hadn’t decided which one to support until she and her husband watched a documentary called “A Place at the Table,” which discusses the extent of hunger in the United States.
“It talked about hunger and food insecurity in America. There’s no reason any citizen should be hungry,” Butler said. “So I reached out to Lyn Hy [at the Food Bank of Central New York] and we’ve been partnering all these years.”
Since the partnership began, Syracuse Fashion Week has raised $10,000 for the organization — enough to feed 30,000 people.
For more information about Syracuse Fashion Week 2019, visit syracusefashionweek.com.
Syracuse Fashion Week 2019
Spring Fling Show
When: 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, April 11
Where: Aloft Hotel, Inner Harbor, Syracuse
What: Models will stroll through the lobby, and you will have a front row seat wherever you sit! Looks will include custom designed swimwear, casual and business looks and everything in between, from local designers and boutiques.
The Underground Show
When: 8 p.m. to midnight Friday, April 12
Where: Marisa’s Fortress of Beauty, 220 Walton St., Syracuse
What: This year’s show will feature sexy silhouettes from the 1950’s to the Aughts, with a rocking soundtrack to match. Snacks and a cash bar. The show begins promptly at 9pm. Featuring a sultry and sexy romp through the decades. Ages 21 and up only.
Syracuse Fashion Week Gala
When: 7 to 11 p.m.
Where: Landmark Theater, 362 S. Salina St., Syracuse
What: An evening of fashion, art and music. This year’s line-up includes custom-made couture, formal wear, bridal wear, and the best from CNY’s local boutiques.
Cost: $64 to $328
All proceeds benefit the Food Bank of Central New York. For tickets, visit cnytix.com/organizations/syracuse-fashion-week