Walk, Turn, Walk
A historical and observational documentary about Kansas City’s fashion industry. Through stories about fashion show producers, designers, models and historians, Kansas City PBS’ “Walk, Turn, Walk” is a comprehensive and thrilling peek behind the scenes of Kansas City’s premier fashion event, Kansas City Fashion Week.
- [Voiceover] Well, fashion is a profound form of expression
We all get up in the morning, wake up.
We have two decisions to make,
What do I want to eat for breakfast
and what am I going to wear?
- [Woman] We're looking at over a thousand people
just to put on one week of Kansas City Fashion Week.
- [Man] The fashion industry, particularly in Kansas City,
is more than an industry, it's a community.
- [Jennifer] Really high in the air, are we ready?
Good job, let's try one more time, try again.
So I started with a professional dance career,
it was almost two decades long but I had
some aspirations of doing fashion design.
My grandmother was a designer and a seamstress.
Once I retired from my ballet career,
I started directing a ballet company,
and I realized I couldn't really speak to costume designers
and seamstresses because I didn't know the language.
And I knew that was me and not them, so I realized it was
time to follow in my grandmother's footsteps,
learn the business, learn the language, and I taught myself
how to sew.
That brought me into designing women's wear,
which then brought me back into runway and I feel like,
runway has this costume element, so I've almost come
absolutely full circle.
- [Britt] This piece is probably from the late 1800's,
early 1900's, it has the leg of mutton sleeve
which was really popular at the time, the big sleeves.
It has a lot of beautiful detailed trim.
Probably this piece wasn't worn very much.
And even the hem has got the pinking, and they would
change out the hems because there was dirt on the ground,
there wasn't paved roads and so you could change out
your hem if it got dirty.
So this is the inside, and if you see all of this is boning.
And it's actually hard, it's metal.
And this is all binding trim.
It's really well maintained inside.
There are some pieces that we have that have
little brown dots on them.
You might think they're rust but the truth is it might
be from blood, just the fact that they're metal and
they're rubbing against your skin, and they're
very tightly fitted, it would create sores and eventually
you might bleed from it.
- There is a ton of opportunities for fashion design
education here, but I was specifically looking at that
Johnson County Community College program and was
always very impressed with it.
- [Prof] The illustration class is sort of a fundamental
class for our students to start to learn to express
their ideas visually.
They're learning not only the techniques of illustration
but also learning how to do flat sketches
and detailed line drawings.
Oftentimes in our business we're dealing with industries
overseas, right, in China or Bangladesh or wherever.
And they may not speak the same language we do,
but a visual representation or a drawing is a method of
communicating that everybody understands.
So we really emphasize to our students, not only a proper
rendering of fabrics but, very very specific details
- [Jennifer] Part of the reason why I went to school
was exactly this.
I used to absolutely design with a pair of scissors.
So for my fall/winter collection, I for the first time,
was able to draw everything out first,
which was fantastic because I could make edits that
didn't require me wasting fabric and wasting time.
- [Teisha] Kansas City Fashion Week came about because
there was not an outlet in Kansas City for designers,
hair stylists, makeup artists, models to showcase
what they do for a living.
- I think it's really important to have a fashion show
because it's a different form of art.
You can put it, you know,
your storyline together through fabric.
- It helps get their name out to the general public,
to buyers of retail boutiques and larger retail stores.
- On a big platform and a big stage, it would be like,
you have a message and a megaphone.
- We typically have about 60-70 applicants per season.
It's a very strict process of selecting the designers,
so we go through and it's a very long application
to be honest.
We also ask them to submit photos of previous looks,
photos of previous fashion shows that they've been involved
in just so we can kind of get an idea of where they are
in their style, where they are in their career,
as far as quality of work.
- And when I got accepted into KC Fashion Week, I think
everyone in city probably heard me yelling and screaming
- This is the original Nelly Don.
The reason she became very popular, is she took sort of
this idea of a house dress and made it really pretty
with ruffle and trim for daytime and things like that.
And this one is Nelly Don, 1929.
Now it becomes more indicative this two-piece literally
does look like the 20's.
It's a lot straighter, a lot slimmer, you know
not a lot of emphasis on the hip and the waist.
It's got a little welt pocket kinda hidden back here
and she's trimmed it out all through the collar.
So it's simple but it definitely has details that
women of the time were wanting.
- So backstage as Kansas City Fashion Week can get
a little crazy, but I think for the most part we are
very meticulous in the way we plan.
- [Rebecca] With Kansas City Fashion Week we are asked,
our call time is usually around noon.
And to be honest we're pretty busy that entire time
in terms of doing hair, doing makeup,
doing fittings before the show,
that will start at noon and then end.
Show starts roughly around 6pm.
So, it takes a solid six hours to get that done.
- [Makeup Artist] Right now, what I'm gonna do is
I'm gonna just blot her, make sure she's good, and then
what I'm gonna do is powder her and then I'll do
her eyebrows, do her eyeshadow and then I'll do her liner,
and then I will do blush and lips.
Put some nice Barbie eyes, eyelashes on her face.
- The other thing we want, we want those landmark
horizontal lines, right?
We want our, we have a hip line, right?
Crotch line that needs to line up.
We have a knee line for trousers lower.
And we've got to make sure that it all lines up.
- [Joy] Well flat-pattern is really kind of
our engineering class.
A lot of people don't think of fashion as a STEM discipline
but we have a profound use of STEM technologies and
engineering and things like that so, flat-pattern is a
puzzle, it's basically building the pieces with using
engineering principles like geometry and measurement
and creating a pattern that you can then sew into 3D format
to make clothing.
- Both my grandma's were both seamstresses.
When they both came over from Mexico, my grandma actually
worked in Garment District in a factory.
Back in the 40's.
And I always kind of fought the urge to do it,
I was kind of self-taught as a kid and in high school
I decided to take construction and then I just gave in.
Then I was like, well it's just kind of a destiny for me,
it's always kind of been in my family.
- So this is a good little tip thing to think about, yes.
Cross off the ones because--
- It's very important we start out just using patterns
that are already in existence, you know,
teaching them through commercial patterns but then
it's really important for the students to learn to
develop their own, to create their own so that they
can create their own unique styles.
- My fall/winter '19 collection is inspired by marketing
and advertising of the 60's through the 90's.
I love, love, love looking at branding and looking how
companies really supply a sensation and a feeling around
They used fashion to really appeal to their audience,
appeal to their target market and to create this kind of
hip and trendy sensation around what they were selling.
So first we're gonna do my moon dress, which I--
there's no reason it's called the moon dress other than
that's just what nickname it has eventually gotten
and it's my look number one.
So it's the first one that goes down the runway
and I tried to put all my elements in that first dress
so it really is a strong preview of everything that's
gonna happen after.
So here we go.
This is it.
This is a print that is specific to the collection.
A little bit of vinyl, there's a touch of tulle
on the underneath side.
This skirt has a really strong shape to it so
between the sleeves and the shape, it just kinda has
this spacey vibe I think.
My orange bottomed shoes.
All the ladies are wearing black pumps with
orange bottomed shoes, and it's a throw to Louboutin.
So it's a throw to red bottomed shoes
and how when shoes have red on the bottom, you know now
you're paying thousands of dollars for them.
And it's just so interesting to me that yes, things do cost
more because of quality, but there's also this just
sensation around fashion elements
and we all agree to those ideas.
- This is Christian Dior, this is dubbed "the new look".
And so after the war, he comes on the scene in '47 and
changes the silhouette and it changes overnight.
Generally fashion is a slow, evolves slowly but this was
It was also very scandalous.
So, especially in Europe after the war, to come out with
this full skirt and tons of fabric and you know,
it was a little controversial.
So this really becomes what is the look in the 50's,
the nipped waist, the full skirt, this has got a petticoat
underneath it, just very beautifully done.
- So our rehearsal actually happens
on the day of their show.
In the venue, we have them walk the actual runway.
We can give the models any last minute instructions
and placement as far as you need to stop at this point
for the photographers to get the shot,
the straight-on runway shot.
This is how your pose this is how many poses you need to do
at the end of the runway.
- That's a really good pace,
you're gonna come up a little closer,
this is where you're gonna pose, this is where they're
gonna be taking all of your pictures right behind me.
When you're done taking your poses, you'll take a couple
steps forward and you'll turn, line yourself up
with these diamonds.
Follow the diamonds to keep you center all the way down.
You do not pose except for down there
and right at that chair.
- They don't know what the runway's actually gonna look like
until they get to the venue and they see, oh the runway's
only six foot wide, and there are people sitting on both
sides of me, I have to be really careful about where I'm
walking and I can't take this turn quite as wide as
I thought that I could.
- I know you have more sass than that.
- Am I jiggling?
- Oh no, you're not jiggling.
- I'm trying to focus on not-- - No you're not jiggling.
Okay, I don't think you can do that.
- I won't, I won't, I won't, I promise.
- So it's really helpful to do a full rehearsal on the day
of the show, sometimes it's stress, sometimes it's not
it just kind of depends on the designer and whether or not
they have a long gown that they need to see how it flows
on the runway before the night of the show.
Or we have had some models that are taking a jacket off
or something and need to practice that as they're walking
down the runway, so that's a great time for them to do that
before the night of the show.
- Get those seams to meet.
One thing I would change is, something I would do again
is probably do more proto-types.
Just to fit the sides a little bit better.
I think it would look...
even if I did it in a stiffer material on the bottom--
- The draping class is developing patterns, similar to
a flat pattern class, only the difference is rather than
developing from measurements and lines and numbers on
two-dimensional paper, you're actually molding fabric
onto a dress form, much like a sculptor.
- If I pin it down, then it's gonna hit this part.
- No, no, this part taller, that comes down here.
- Oh okay, so more material. - More fabric.
- To be honest with you, and I think this is true of any
creative discipline, you learn more from your mistakes
than you do from your successes, and that's a hard thing
for students to learn.
And then you got your perfectionists that are afraid
to even make a mistake.
So we have to push them like, just cut it!
Just do it, just leap.
What's the worst thing that could happen?
- Jason Atherton is our photography director and he does
a great job of selecting the photographers that go through
the application process as well.
- You know what we're doing right?
We've done this once, twice before.
So lots of full lengths head to toes,
fronts, sides, and then I'll come in and do some halves
and three quarters for you, all right?
- [Teisha] When a designer has a model walking down
their runway, obviously the people who are in attendance
at the show are the only ones seeing the garment.
So it's very important that we have a huge team of
photographers there at each show to
document this for each designer.
- Okay so, show tonight...
Center pit, center, side pit, anywhere around the center.
Side stages, and anywhere behind the chairs.
Show, intermission, show.
I need 15 to 20 highlights, high res, no logo,
uploaded to Dropbox sometime within the next 24 hours.
Variety is key.
Especially if you're on the side or even in the pit,
we don't wanna see the exact same model five times,
or even the exact same pose five times.
So, I mean bring the variety.
- [Teisha] I think we had upwards of 30 photographers
throughout the week making sure that we have various angles
of photography for our collection, but then also the
straight-on runway shot that the designers can use
on their websites, and can use on marketing material
and different things to help promote their brand further.
- Now we're getting into the 70's and there's different
components but this something that became very classic
and sold very well in the 70's.
This is a classic shirt dress, this is actually ultrasuede
which is not real, synthetic suede.
Synthetic was something becoming popular
in the 70's and 60's.
It was actually manufactured for the war
and most things we eat, wear, use are because of war efforts
so plastic, polyester, things like that.
This was also just a great, easy dress, women were
starting to get in the work force.
There was this idea, this more calming down,
simplistic look of the 70's.
Halston also went very disco too,
so we've got elements of that in our collection.
But this just really shows an everyday dress
that women can wear to work, it was simple, it was classic.
And it was something that was somewhat affordable.
- So the doors just opened for our first night
at Kansas City Fashion Week, so I'm really excited
to show you guys tonight what is going on.
- So I moved them to empty seats in the BV, or whatever.
So we need to make sure we solve for that tomorrow.
- Somebody backstage that can--
Oh, hold on--
- There's no toilet paper in that bathroom right here,
I don't know who to tell but...
- I can fix that.
From where I live it's probably about a 40, 45 minute drive.
- It's my husband.
- [Child On Phone] Mommy, um, my leg hurts.
- Your leg hurts, what did you do, baby?
- It's just growing. - It's a growing pain?
- Mommy I need--
- Aw, I'm sorry baby.
Did Daddy rub it?
- But it doesn't feel better.
- Did you drink some water?
- Yeah. - Yeah?
- [Child On Phone] I did.
- Well it should start to feel better real soon, buddy.
No, don't cry bud, it's okay.
- [Child On Phone] (crying)
- [Father On Phone] Here, Mommy will kiss it.
- You want me to kiss it through the phone?
- No not on the phone!
- [Father On Phone] I'm gonna let you go
so I can deal with him.
- Okay, bye. - Bye
- Seriously my feet.
First day, first day.
This designer's Scaasi and we dub this dress
the Nancy Reagan dress.
Because that was obviously in the 80's, were the Reagan's.
And she loved red so, I don't think she wore it
but she might have.
And Scaasi was a designer that did dress first ladies,
so there you go.
The 80's was more is more.
Bigger shoulders, bigger hair, bigger earrings,
more makeup, it just was excess.
Financially, things were successful,
people spent a lot of money all over the country.
And so big, oversized pieces were definitely something
that was being worn in the 80's.
- So before we get started, I just wanted to say,
thank you all for participating in our industry
and in our community for these fifteen seasons.
According to the Department of Labor,
the Bureau of Labor Statistics,
the number of people who put that they were a
fashion designer on their tax return...
Three-zero, thirty in 2010.
For fashion designers in the Kansas City Metropolitan area,
in 2016 the number was 200.
That means every week, every week some new entrepreneur
steps up and says I am going to be a fashion designer.