(From left to right) Starlyn Oakes, Daisy Lahache, Jenna Thompson and Kendall Horn were among the models decked out by Onkwehón:we designers at the Fashion After Dark runway show in Cornwall last weekend. (Courtesy Laurie Gardner)
While the light faded on the horizon Saturday, the floodlights at the Port Theatre in Cornwall turned on and shone on a collection of over a dozen designers who showed work at Fashion After Dark.
Along with the designers, models, makeup artists and hairstylists got their time in the limelight including Kahnawa’kehró:non Kendall Horn, who opened the show and walked for three separate designers.
“I was so nervous, yet excited to know that I was opening the show,” said the soccer star turned runway pro. “I felt pressured to be perfect, walk perfect and pose perfect. I even had backup dancers behind me and I had to walk to the beat of the song that was playing.”
Akwesasne hair and makeup artist Tisha Thompson organized the show with her impressive crew of local industry professionals, as she continues to showcase Onkwehón:we fashion industry talent.
“It helps showcase our work, and I collaborate with a lot of other makeup and hair people in our area and further, and I like to help promote them also,” she said.
This year Thompson wanted to highlight the hair and makeup people, who are often in the background without recognition. Makeup artists like Akwesasne’s Starlyn Oakes’ names were in the program, and they all got the chance to walk on stage with the designers if they chose to.
“Getting ready for the show was a rush,” said Oakes, who also modelled for Kahnawa’kehró:non designer Karoniénhawe Diabo’s “She Holds the Sky Designs.” “The building was buzzing with all the makeup artists and hair stylists. I was at the spot at 11 a.m., and I didn’t stop working until quarter after 10 p.m.”
Thompson knows full well how hair and makeup artists are taken for granted with some shows even neglecting to feed those who are working for hours backstage.
“I’ve been to fashion shows, in Ottawa even, where we’re starving in the back,” said Thompson. “If you don’t bring your own lunch, you’re pretty much going to starve.”
The show sold out with many designers selling wares straight off the runway. Thompson announced that items are for sale, which helps designers with sales even more so. In addition, Thompson invited a rep from a modelling agency.
“She sat out there and was so impressed,” said Thompson. “I know she’ll probably be contacting some of them.”
Oakes had particular praise for the She Holds the Sky look she wore, and said working with the in-demand Kahnawake designer Diabo was a joy.
“I loved working with Karoniénhawe,” said Oakes. “Her designs were so beautiful and comfortable. She was very on point on how she lined us up, and how she wanted us to walk and present her design.”
Another highlight model of the night was Jenna Thompson, who rocked a Niio Perkins yoga suit that sent jaws to the floor.
“It’s an adrenaline rush for sure,” said Jenna, who admitted modelling is a step out of the comfort zone for the shy soccer player.
Oakes did makeup for Perkins and spoke about the pressures of showing her craft at a runway show.
“I felt a serious amount of pressure,” she said. “I’m showing off my craft and I want the people to see my craft as well. I wanted my models to look flawless. I felt instant gratification seeing the models walk the runway showcasing my work. It really is a great feeling.”
Cornwall mayor Bernadette Clement attended the packed show, and was one of those that got to check out Adam Beach’s wife Summer Tiger walk the catwalk as well as a series of outstanding looks, courtesy of Red Berry Woman.
The Paris Fashion Week destined designer Norma Baker FlyingHorse is the first contemporary designer to have a dress worn at the Oscars. Local model Daisy Lahache walked in FlyingHorse’s (Red Berry Woman) red carpet-ready black ball gown in addition to walking for Babe’s Cosmetics.
“Her designs were gorgeous,” said Lahache, who modelled for the third time Saturday. “It was such a beautiful show that I’m proud to have been a part of. The pressure was definitely on as it got closer to my walk, but it felt so good once I was actually on the runway. All the pressure was released when I heard the audience.”
Having FlyingHorse at the show painted an extra streak of magic on an already impressive show. It was something Tisha Thompson hopes inspires the others who took part.
“By inviting her, it showed the other designers that you can go and do whatever you want,” she said. “Set goals for yourself. It just inspired the other designers also.”
There are already requests in to bring the show to Kahnawake.
“I’m thinking of it,” said Tisha Thompson.