‘Ooooooh, this is new. The fabric is fantastic.”
In a fashion designer’s studio near Saratoga Lake, Corey Aldrich touches the wool tweed of a tailored woman’s jacket.
“That’s for the show,” says Kristina Collins. Carrying her toddler in her arms, Collins escorts visitors around her home studio, with its spools of colored thread, sewing machines, ironing board and large green cutting table. Along the walls, more jackets, dresses and skirts hang from metal racks.
On Saturday, Collins and five other fashion designers will showcase their fall collections at the fifth annual Electric City Couture Fashion Show.
In previous years, the fashion extravaganza has attracted excited standing-room-only crowds to Proctors’ GE Theatre in Schenectady.
This year, the Capital Region’s biggest runway event is happening at a new venue, the Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs.
“We had our birth at Proctors, Proctors has supported us, and Proctors is still involved with the show. Now it’s time to go to Saratoga,” says Aldrich, the fashion show’s project manager.
Electric City Couture Fashion Show
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Universal Preservation Hall, 25 Washington St., Saratoga Springs
HOW MUCH: $15. Tickets are available online at electriccitycouture.com, by calling Proctors at 346-6204 or in person at Proctors box office in Schenectady.
RELATED EVENT: Off-the-runway boutique, free and open to the public, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Universal Preservation Hall.
MORE INFO: electricitycouture.com
Proctors recommended the Saratoga venue and will be providing the runway for the 55 female and male models, he says.
Saratoga Springs, with its independent women’s clothing boutiques and lively coterie of socialites, has also embraced the show.
“They are rabidly supporting us,” Aldrich says.
Julie Bonacio of Saratoga Springs is the honorary chairman of the fashion show, and her husband, Sonny, is on the UPH board of directors.
The mission of Electric City Couture is to support and raise awareness of local fashion designers and eventually to create a regional fashion economy.
“Take a portion of your clothing budget and buy local,” Aldrich suggests.
Besides the Saratoga venue, fashion watchers will find two more twists in the popular event.
After the show on Saturday night and on the day after, a boutique on the first floor of Universal Preservation Hall will sell clothing from the six designers.
The Saturday boutique will be open only to ticket holders, but admission is free to the Sunday shop.
“There were so many people that wanted to buy the clothes off the runway,” says Aldrich. “Now they can buy it right on the spot while they are energized and excited.”
This year, the show will also charge admission, after four years of offering the event free.
Some of the proceeds will fund ongoing restoration work at Universal Preservation Hall, which serves as the Universal Baptist Church and a center for performing arts and community events.
To honor UPH and its history as an African-American church, the show will be dedicated to the Rev. Minnie Burns, and the music, provided by disc jockey Nate da Great, will have an African-American theme.
Electric City fans will see four familiar names and two new entries among the designers.
Collins will return as the show’s headliner for the second year in a row.
Other returning designers are Kim Vanyo of Khymanyo Studios in Saratoga’s Beekman Street Arts District; ‘e ko logic, a recycled clothing company in Troy and Gamakache Black, operated by Guyana native Margaret Persaud of Queens.
New to the show are Jane Wilson-Marquis, who has a salon on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, and Hudson-based Behida Millinery, with hat designs inspired by 1920s and 1930s styles.
Last year, the show’s hot model was Laura LaFrate, a Scotia native who was a runner-up on “America’s Next Top Model.”
This year, the model to watch is Genna Rochelle of Albany, another “Top Model” competitor.
In other fashion shows, models have to change their outfits.
“We have one look per model,” Aldrich says. There are fashion shows around, but there’s nothing like this.”
Claire Harris of Albany has signed up as the new salon coordinator, commanding a behind-the-scenes squad of hair stylists and makeup artists.
“There’s never been a show that’s just about the designers themselves,” says Collins, who has been on the program since 2012.
Before she gave birth to her two young sons, Collins would make many trips to New York City to show her work.
“I’m a stay-at-home mom, but I work. Now it’s in my own backyard,” she says.
A former software engineer with a math and computer science degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, she sells her clothing at Frivolous Boutique in Saratoga Springs and from her Facebook page.
Collins, who started with bridal designs in 2003 and changed to ready-to-wear in 2010, also has many returning clients who admired her work in custom bridal and evening wear.
Her fall 2014 collection is “very feminine but strong, and it’s a mix of textures. Wool, lace, leather and cotton,” she says.
“The woman I like to dress is a busy woman. She’s a go-getter, she likes to look polished. She likes clothes she can pull on easily, to mix and match.”
For fall, her colors are greys, black and white.
“I totally simplify my colors for fall. Even the leather is a sort of slate color.”
Reach Gazette reporter Karen Bjornland at 395-3197 or firstname.lastname@example.org.