Fashion Week returns to the runway of Winston-Salem


Nikita Wallace, founder and creative director of Winston-Salem Fashion Week returns for her seventh year of inspiring and showcasing local artists. “It is a delight to be back in person after having to go fully virtual last year. We were successful in our efforts, but nothing beats being present,” Wallace said. 

The 7th Annual Winston-Salem Fashion Week Showcase will run September 17th through the 25th, bringing fashion awareness to the city. Winston-Salem Fashion Week is regarded as one of the premier events in the Triad since launching in 2015. According to the press release, WSFW is a “multicultural community event that provides an opportunity for, but not exclusive to, local designers, artists, and professionals in the apparel industry as well as sponsoring business owners and partners to showcase their collections and talents while expanding their brands.” 


The theme for this year’s showcase is, It’s all About the Decades of the ‘80s and ‘90s. According to the release, it’s a reflection and homage to the beginning of a colorful, carefree yet political era that made statements through art, music, dance, and fashion. “It will be exciting to see each designer’s inspiration on this monumental era transformed on the runway; while we continue to celebrate the achievements and accomplished history of the City of Winston-Salem; transforming into technology, and expanding in the Arts Culture,” Wallace said. The runway showcase will reflect the energy and electricity of eight designers that will present their Fall/Winter 2021 or Spring/Summer 2022 Collections on the runway by professional models. Local retailers will introduce their looks for 2021 Fall/Winter or Spring/Summer 2022. 

The kickoff begins September 3rd from 5:30 to 7 p.m. with the first-ever Designer and Artist Exhibition at the Milton Rhodes Center. The opening night is in collaboration with the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, and Milton Rhodes. “It is an opportunity to share our designer’s process and progress, with all the artwork and design work being from residents of North Carolina,” Wallace said.  

Following the opening night reception, the opening showcase for HanesBrand’s Champion line will be on September 17th at 6:30 p.m., at Innovation Quarter. “The theme for this year is Urban Street Style,” Antonina Whaples said, a third-year designer for WSFW and co-owner of Kindred Spirits. “Kindred Spirits has been part of the downtown Winston-Salem community since 1994. We believe that every person, regardless of race, gender, or spiritual path, is on the shared journey of life. And we exist to provide the provisions that support and enrich that journey. Twenty-five local artists focus on sustainability, and I am using that ability in what I make and what I design for the Winston-Salem Fashion Show.”


Whaples was recently inspired by the Winter Olympics in Tokyo, especially American gymnast Simone Biles. “I admire her expression of being a real champion,” Whaples said. “I decided to take a leotard and transform it into a red, white, and blue lace dress, along with a Wonder Woman headband that I hand beaded. I didn’t want to stop there, so I created a giant metallic cape, which has the Olympic logo at the top with the American flag and Simone Biles doing a backflip on it.” This look will be modeled by Melanie Vaughn, the North Carolina Miss Cosmos pageant queen, who owns and runs dance explosion performing arts, and will also be participating in New York Fashion Week as a model this year.

“Winston-Salem Fashion Week’s purpose is not only about exploring the world of design, but also discussing the benefit and beauty of sustainability,” Wallace said. 

On September 18th and 19th from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Hampton Inn, located in Downtown Winston-Salem, is a two-day event on sustainable fashion including a large clothing swap, upcycling workshop, vendors, music, and door prizes. There will be a panel discussion featuring the Swap Across America team- Rick Davy, Bridgett Artise, and Caprece Ann Jackson. “This event is in collaboration with BK Style Foundation from out of Brooklyn, New York, and is about bringing in your nice, used apparel and continuously swapping with others to put together a new outfit. It is a good way to interact with others, play around with style, and save the environment,” Wallace said. 

As WSFW gets closer to its designer and retail showcase, they will host their annual opening night reception at 6:30 p.m., located at SECCA, to highlight all their sponsors and partners. “The Mayor of Winston-Salem, Allen Joines, will be in attendance, giving the welcoming address at the reception, as he does every year. We also expect the Champion staff and leading VP’s to be present that night,” Wallace said.

The final event of WSFW is the designer and retail showcase, which will take place September 25th at 1 p.m. and is located at SECCA. 

The showcase brings back Goodwill’s “Diva, Dapper on a Dime,” where designers receive a gift card to shop at Goodwill, and with those items, the designers’ upcycle them to create a new look. This year, designer Melissa Coleman has been working on re-dyeing and incorporating splatter paint on formal wear. Alongside the showcase is the second annual Project RunSlay Competition, where WSFW designers upcycle clothing to be reimagined in correspondence with the theme. Three finalists will be chosen at the end by guest judges.


“Diva, Dapper on a Dime” model, Kristopher Brown, shares his excitement about being in WSFW for the third year. “I always say to enjoy the ride as long as it’s safe and fun. The world of fashion came as a bucket list for me. When I turned 30 years old, I knew I had to walk the runway once,” Brown said. “I auditioned for Greensboro Fashion Week back in 2014, and that was my first modeling experience. That was my first experience doing anything fashion-related, and after that, it didn’t seem to stop.”

While we see courage, confidence, and catwalks on the stage, we recognize the creatives behind the scenes.

“I have had the privilege of watching the models, and designers grow over the years,” Eric Wallace said, runway photographer and son of Nikita Wallace. “I am a full-time photographer and am able to capture the precious and powerful moments both on and off the stage, and that is my dream. I give thanks to my mother for showing me you can do anything you set your heart out to do.” 


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