Kansas City Fashion Week: Looks from Runway Kickoff Show

The Event Celebrated its Sweet 16 with Many Up + Coming Designers

Article by Mindy Hargesheimer

Photography by Mindy Hargesheimer

Neon, cultured, diversity, and playfully female were the themes for night one as Kansas City Fashion Week’ launched its week of runway events with an evening show on Wednesday, September 18. The entire event ran from September 14 to 21 as fashion industry professionals came together to celebrate spring and summer trends. 

KCFW’s Sweet Sixteen was no small production, with over 30 wildly talented visionaries who took their creations from paper to pathway, beginning with Wednesday night’s introduction, to a number of up and coming fashion designers that captured the audience’s attention, and captivated our visual senses. 

Tropical Paradise

Kicking off the night was Jazmin Ayala, a la Fashion by Ayala. A Kansas City-native attending the NYC’s Fashion Institute of Technology, @fashionbyayala brought her debut collection, dubbed “Paradise,” inspired by her Colombian-American roots. With a resort wear assemblage that brought romantic tropical palms mixed with breezy whites and feathers, Fashion by Ayala brought Latin America to the Midwest runway, inspiring us all to book that next vacation, true south, as fast as we can.

Cozy Up

From cooling down to cozying up, Sarah Wilson Knitwear wove her runway debut into KCFW with a chic and beautiful cashmere and mohair collection, paired with oh-so romantic floral crowns. Sewing since a child, and living a glorious by-day life identity known as @thesexyknitter, @sarahwilsonknitwear confidently takes on the boldest challenges, pairing intricate designs and beading, all while simultaneously showing the consumer how knitwear is an unexpected, yet perfect spring/summer style, where “cozy” comes in the form of “simply cool.”     

Statement About Sustainability

Sydney Bias made a statement, both literally and figuratively, about sustainability.

“I believe that as a new designer in the industry it is my responsibility to create in an eco-conscious way. So, with this collection, my main focus is eliminating fabric waste,” she says. With a seamless compilation of over 90 vintage bandanas that she acquired from donors, @sdotbias created nine different silhouettes inspired by a 1971 Vogue fashion ad. Sydney brought a unique and entirely resourceful angle to the event, sending an important message of preservation. 

Jackie O Inspired 

Bringing all the strong, confident woman feels to the forefront of her collection, designer Gracie Key, the talent spearheading GK Designs, turned her apparent passion for Jackie O and presented her style interpretation to us in the crowd. Take one-part class and one-part edge and find yourself soaking up all of the empowerment prowess of @graciekey.designs.


Fashion AF delivered a sleek and modern twist on vintage silhouettes, creating some of my favorite neon, mod numbers of the night. With St Louis-based Annabelle Frese at the helm, history takes a front seat with a modern influence in her designs, as made evident by her mid-century flight attendant collection showcasing a Mad Men-esque color palette that was intrinsically playful. @annabellefresedesigns is sure to land many more flights of fancy. 

'Every' Woman 

Annette Sunshine Designs perfectly represented the ‘every’ woman, with varying shapes and colors presented for us to adore, appreciate, and love as they whimsically floated down the runway. Annette showed her ability to meet the style demands of women who scan the spectrum of desiring neutrals to bold hues, form-fitting to draping, and classic to modern, and garnered cheers from the crowd in doing so. And with a motivated culture focused on inclusion of diversity, @sunshineannette will surely continue to make her mark on generations to come. 

Global Adventure 

Designer Qun Liu contributed her impressive global exposure to the Midwest, with a stunning passport-worthy collection. With roots in China, to residencies in Paris and Saint Louis, brought us on a journey from one internationally inspired aesthetic to another, giving us a global adventure within a matter of minutes. 

One-Of-A-Kind Handbags 

Last and very certainly not least, with an infinitely playful collection that brought a smile and bounce to each and every seat in the house, Peri Conner of Perichette closed the week’s first night with a beautiful bang. With her very fun, very ornate and accessorized look for the ultimate female at heart, @perichette showed her ‘Plagette’ collection of luxury handbags that are artistically designed to be one-of-a kind investments, with a theatrical spirit backing each and every production.

That’s a wrap on night one! Congratulations to all of the incredible designers on their impressive works of art, and the wonderful line up of staff that worked tirelessly together to kick off the week!

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