The house lights dim, a hush blankets the crowd. A blitz of color and light appear from the background and a booming sound of percussive beats and electronica fills the air. Tall, lithe models walk along the u-shaped catwalk, swaying in step to the music with focused stares towards a faraway place. The proverbial curtain has risen on the modern theater of Nordstrom's Fall 2009 Runway Show. Let the drama begin.

The French popularized salons in the 17th and 18th centuries, creating public spheres of intellectual and cultural gatherings, as well as showings of art. It was a place to see what ideas were presented as much as it was a place to be seen, and the fashion catwalks of our 21st century continue to keep that flame alive. The Bellevue Collection's Fashion Week presented yet another dazzling event on Wednesday night, with Nordstrom unveiling pieces from the fall 2009 collections from ten designers, including: Vince, Boss Orange, Elizabeth & James, Milly, Rag & Bone, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Leifsdottir, Haute Hippie, Boss Black, and Diane von Furstenburg.

Runway shows exemplify why fashion is exciting. The music, the excitement of the crowd, the clothing itself -- it's truly an expression of the mind's concept of style, fully realized in a physical form. It is performance art, rooted in emotion and aesthetic. A glint of light off a silvery sequin or the subtle sheen of hammered silk against a moving form are amplified in the public sphere of music, rhythmn and an eager audience. The heightened senses elevate the experience far beyond wandering through a department store.

Overall, the show presented a wide display of very wearable styles. Nothing too avant-garde or wild, which is respectful of the audience -- most people want to be inspired off the rack and not try to decipher a conceptual or absurd menagerie straight out of Derelicte, Mugatu's arcane collection from the movie Zoolander. This was a show to elevate everyday and evening wear, influencing people towards thinking smarter and making intelligent choices.

The presence of layering has been apparent across the fashion board, and the menswear of Boss Orange and Marc by Marc Jacobs really exemplified the visual interest of incorporating a variety of materials (knits, silks, leather) in smart combinations and slim-fit silhouettes. These looks stood out in comparison to looks from Rag & Bone, which went for safer pairings of loose, casual pieces, which seemed dull in comparison to the more bold choices. The womens' clothing of Rag & Bone were more compelling, with confident tailoring and sleek layering that did not add extra heft to the outfits, while maintaining their urbane look.

Hipster-nerd chic appeared in several collections -- thick-rimmed glasses were worn by several of the models, adding a distinctive but purposeful edge to looks. This particular accessory has been making the rounds of late, both on and off the runways. While more visual decor than visual aid, it's a fashion prop that is both delightfully self-aware, and with a sense of Pacific Northwest humor this Bird can appreciate.

Similar combinations of materials and detail were present throughout women's pieces in the collections: refined silks and crushed faux furs from Elizabeth & James, chunky-tweedy coats woven with metallic thread and crisp ruffles from Milly. A tactile presence appeared on several items, ranging from soft and feathered bohemia to rock and roll metal hardware. Women of course have the delightful dilemma of a wide array of options for clothing styles, and the variety of textiles and fit made it clear that in this season, individuality is celebrated, and there is an encouragement to break rules and wear pieces that can span seasons. The presence of tights and leggings continued their reign, giving summer sandals a second life as autumn footwear options, and grounding the silky, diaphanous pieces from Haute Hippie for layered outfits in winter's chill.

Not that this Bird likes to play favorites... but she will. The collections that were most vibrant and full of stylish life were the pieces from Leifsdottir and Haute Hippie. With their graphic bold prints and vintage flourishes, Leifsdottir is like the smart, romantic art student who dreams of strolling the rain-soaked streets of Paris, and Haute Hippie is the free-spirited socialite who spends as much time in London as she does New York, swathed in a dramatic swirl of fur, feathers and sequins to herald her comings and goings. The fashion show crowd definitely gave Diane von Furstenburg's pieces the most audible support of cheers, especially the final tah-dah piece of a black and white 60s style paillette dress, but Leifsdottir and Haute Hippie were the ones that truly stole this Bird's jaunty heart.

Not to forget the real show of the night -- watching over five hundred of the Eastside's elite, dressed in their finery, showing off their fashion sense in the wide expanse of the Hyatt Regency's Wintergarden wing. It was an interesting thing to see that the runway looks were not much different from what the guests were wearing, as the style mood was bold and intrepid. Even the young children in attendance were adorned in their precocious best, as if they stepped straight from a page of The Sartorialist. People wove about the displays of items from Nordstrom, laid out on tables and pedestals like rare art. Colorblocked cashmere scarves with butter-soft leather gloves folded over each one like delicate hands, pumps and boots set up along tables like scupltures -- an appropriate decor that was both aesthetic and available for purchase. Observing all the beautifully-dressed guests inhabit the space, it was hard not to expect someone to break into song, and everyone suddenly step in time to a number reminiscent of the Ascot Race Day sequence in George Cukor's film, My Fair Lady.

The most fashionable thing about the evening was of course the $35,000 raised to benefit the Detlef Schrempf Foundation. Now in its fourth year, the Nordstrom runway show has proven yet again that fashion and goodwill are a most stylish pairing, indeed. Great thanks to Nordstrom for putting on an exciting show and raising awareness for a worthy cause.

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  1. Thanks for being our eyes and ears at this fantasic event! Love the fashion shots, so candid.

  2. What's not to love about fall fashion all my favorite things - black, charcoal, dark brown. Wrap me up in it all!

  3. So great to get a feel for what I missed. And I'm soooo bummed I couldn't be fortunate to score free tix like some people...

    First, I really like the photos from this event and enjoy the blurred effects in the one with the models. It looks like you did it on purpose and this is such a great glimpse of everything. Especially of those beautiful feminine Milly pieces with delicious ruffle details. Second, I totally could have rocked that look with the pink and grey scarf. But even though I didn't get to, I love that you gave some attention to the fellas in this article.

    Keep it coming girlie!

  4. K, you so funnah. ;) I have to hand it to Nordstrom for making a well-balanced show between the ladies and the rocka-fellahs. And yeah, the blurring was totally on purpose because my camera is so not a good fit for these events and didn't get a lot of good shots, so I had to improvise!


Merci buttercups! Your comments are appreciated! (hit the 'post comment' button twice, sometimes it's buggy)