By Starr Powell
Columbus, Ohio, brought its A-game to the 14th Annual Fashion Week Columbus (FWC23) event, delivering a breathtaking celebration of style and an opportunity to forge meaningful connections. This year, the fashion extravaganza was nothing short of amazing, showcasing the city’s undeniable talent and innovation in the world of high fashion.
Fashion Week Columbus (FWC) is an event that brings together designers, models, and fashion enthusiasts from all walks of life to celebrate the artistry and creativity of the fashion industry. Attending FWC for the first time was a remarkable experience that introduced me to a world of glamour, innovation, and inspiration. From witnessing incredible runway shows to meeting passionate individuals, my inaugural FWC experience left an indelible mark on me.
A Glimpse into the Extravaganza
The runway shows were the heart of FWC, and they were nothing short of spectacular. Each designer’s collection told a unique story, and I was mesmerized by the artistry that unfolded before my eyes. The fabrics, colors, and intricate designs showcased the incredible talent and creativity of the fashion community in Columbus.
Meeting Extraordinary Individuals
One of the most remarkable aspects of FWC was the opportunity to meet passionate and talented individuals like the FWC Marketing Director and Founder of Passport 2 Fashion runway event, Aditi Bhatiya, who is dedicated to making the fashion industry more inclusive and diverse. I had the privilege of chatting with designers, models, and organizers who were not only experts in their respective fields but also committed to fostering positive change within the industry.
A few of my most memorable encounters was with designers Xantha Ward and Sydney Peters, who started her own sustainable fashion brands. Their commitment to using eco-friendly materials and ethical production processes was truly inspiring. It was a reminder that fashion could be a force for good, advocating for sustainability and responsible consumption.
Fashion as an Art Form
FWC expanded my understanding of fashion as an art form. It’s not just about clothing; it’s about self-expression, creativity, and storytelling. Each runway show was a visual narrative, weaving together elements of culture, history, and personal experiences. The designers poured their hearts and souls into their collections, and it was a privilege to witness their visions come to life.
Fashion Week Columbus also emphasized the importance of embracing diversity and inclusivity in the fashion industry. Models of all shapes, sizes, genders, backgrounds, ages and capabilities graced the runway, challenging traditional beauty standards and celebrating individuality. This was further underscored by the inaugural ‘Curvy’ Runway show, a collaboration between IL Moda Brands and the curation of Bg Luxe Inc. Notable figures like the iconic fashion and interior designer, Bea Foster, and the remarkable autistic model, Tommi Lee, were featured on the runway. It was a powerful reminder that fashion should be accessible and relatable to everyone.
A Lasting Impression
My first experience at Fashion Week Columbus left a lasting impression on me. It opened my eyes to the limitless possibilities within the world of fashion and the incredible community that supports it. FWC not only celebrates creativity and innovation but also encourages responsible and sustainable practices within the industry.
As I left the event, I couldn’t help but feel inspired to explore my own sense of style and creativity. Fashion is more than just clothing; it’s a means of self-expression and a platform for change. Fashion Week Columbus showed me that fashion can be a powerful force for good, and I am grateful to have been a part of this extraordinary journey into the heart of the fashion world.
Keira Chatman’s Role as Executive Director
One of the significant changes at FWC23 was the transition of leadership. Keira Chatman took on the role of Executive Director of the Columbus Fashion Council, a position previously held by Thomas McClure, who founded Fashion Week Columbus and the Columbus Fashion Council in 2010. Keira’s vision and dedication were evident throughout the event, and her leadership promises an exciting future for the fashion community in Columbus.
Lubna Najjar’s Final Year as President
Lubna Najjar, the owner of IL Moda Brands, marked her final year as the President of the Columbus Fashion Council. Her unwavering commitment to the fashion industry and her invaluable contributions to FWC over the years have left an indelible mark. As she steps down, her legacy continues to inspire the next generation of fashion enthusiasts and professionals.
Program Director Nia Noelle
Nia Noelle, the Program Director for Fashion Week Columbus and the Columbus Fashion Council, played a pivotal role in orchestrating the event’s success. Her dedication to fostering talent and promoting inclusivity within the fashion industry was evident in every aspect of FWC23.
The Showcase of Talent
The highlight of FWC23 was, of course, the extraordinary runway shows. The High Fashion Tea Runway Show featured a lineup of exceptionally talented designers, including:
Juan José Saenz-Ferreyros
The Passport 2 Fashion segment showcased the work of the following designers, each bringing their unique flair to the runway:
Nikki Burton: Kincs By Nicki Wearable Art
Issac St. Thomas: House of Bdelliom
Hyde Ebright: HYDES WURLD
Efua Amissah-Aggrey: Baddest
Amber Hall: Amber Nicole
Alishia Lee: Me By Lee
Maggie O’Brien: Octomingo
Amrita and Kalpana: AK Couture
The grand finale of FWC23 was nothing short of spectacular, with the Headline Designer Prajjé O. Jean Baptiste leading the way. Juan José Saenz-Ferreyros and Xantha joined him, alongside a lineup of sensational designers, including James White, Renae Kotarski and Austin Tootle.
Fashion Week Columbus 2023 was an unforgettable experience that showcased the exceptional talent and creativity thriving in Columbus, Ohio. The event not only celebrated high fashion but also emphasized the importance of fostering connections within the fashion community. With Kiera Chatman’s leadership, the legacy of Thomas McClure, Lubna Najjar’s enduring impact, and the dedication of Nia Noelle, FWC23 was a testament to the city’s commitment to fashion innovation and inclusivity. As the curtains close on this year’s event, the future of Columbus fashion shines even brighter.