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Being Seen, Feeling Fabulous

Eyetopia Rocks the Runway and the Every-day

Watching Paige Buscema’s runway models steal the show at the Business Women of Loudoun’s annual fashion show, you wouldn’t guess that she’s been an optician her whole career. Addressing her own and her shop Eyetopia’s fashion sense, she explains, “In that process of fitting people for eyewear, you get to know, individual’s personalities and quickly learn to allow the individual to teach you what is going to be appropriate. Over time I've just sort of taught other staff members to take their own story and put it on the back shelf, and let the client story teach them what they need to wear.”

Each person’s “sense of self and purpose and value and confidence” determines how they want to “Be Seen,” as her motto asserts, even on their most casual days. Her goal is always to get to know clients, through conversation or observation, to understand who they think they are. Sometimes the way a person presents themselves and who they see themselves being is out of alignment. “Helping people align those two stories becomes the magic of what we do [at Eyetopia.]”

“The magic of any good stylist is the ability to pull from people their absolute best and help them see it in the mirror, because we don't always do that for ourselves.” When what you see in the mirror is your absolute best, “that builds confidence and there's no price tag for that,” she adds. “That excites me – seeing people transform, feeling more confident and with good things happening in their lives. That's the butterfly effect from what we do here and that’s my whole world... it’s the fun stuff that fuels you.”

What fueled Paige on the runway was the concept of unity in diversity, symbolized with a lip-shaped pin made of rhinestones which each model sported. Grace Skinner, an 18-year-old with Downs Syndrome, rocked this season’s hottest trend – the “shacket,” as Paige called it – a combination plaid shirt and jacket with a custom-made “utility belt” featuring a pouch with ruby red lips. Grace lit the room with her confident stride and beaming smile. “She was really nervous at first,” says Paige, “It was really exciting to see her transformation. She walked that runway like she owned it, stomped down there, did her turns, threw off her little power sign; it was great stuff and just a testament to the energy of the night.”

Colleen Dee Tiberius Shumaker, a local influencer, followed in a longer, asymmetrical plaid shacket, set off with distressed, oversized black jeans with a vertical zipper feature running down each leg. The always colorful Rusty Foster of Bow Tie Strategies, strode behind a French bulldog sporting a Wonder Woman cape, and Paige herself sported a black denim duster festooned with European destinations over newsprint printed leggings and high black boots.

A six-foot drag queen performance artist, Anja Dick who is well known by locals as a regular cast member in Shocktober, wowed the crowd with wine-colored knee-high, 4-inch platform stiletto boots, matching faux leather pants and matching bustier embellished with color-matched stones and stitching, overlaid with a tailored, bedazzled, maxi-length denim duster. “I did the bedazzling myself,” Anja noted proudly.

With a foot-high, white Parisian wig, magnificently outlined eyes and lips, Anja was, in a word, breathtaking. This holiday season, she performs as the Grouch, handing out Toys for Tots and is rehearsing and fundraising for an an upcoming production of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” as the title character, in February.

“I wanted someone from the drag community to show what a fun form of entertainment that is, and that it’s not scary,” Paige explains.

All, of course, sported spectacularly stylish sunglasses, but there was more behind the inspiration than eyewear. “I wanted to challenge people’s pre-conceived notions of who might wear” the signature, fashion-forward pieces she chose to spotlight.

In her view, fashion is something you wear to stand out, and have fun, then pass along when you find a new look. As such, it shouldn’t cost a fortune. As a prequel to the show, she videoed all the models in their outfits on a green screen and masked their heads, so that what people could see was how the clothes made their wearers feel, completely apart from who was wearing them. “I wanted you essentially to be able to envision yourself having fun, because again this is really about the emotion that the clothes, evoke, rather than the actual look. My customers should say, ‘I want to feel like that.’”

In a word, Be-YOU-tiful.

The look this year is retro, but reimagined with a bit of bling and lots of color. Eyetopia is eclectic and a bit ornate, many made by artisans whose exquisite detailing is meant to stand out. Visit Eyetopia at 223 Loudoun St SE, Leesburg, and check out the video at . 

Together with last year's sponsorships, the show raised more than $4,400 for Loudoun Cares. 

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