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Brooklyn stakes its claim on NY design with DUMBO show

The Brooklyn Paper
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Paris. Milan. Brooklyn?

Plans are underway to make the borough the next stop on the world fashion tour. As a start, 19 Brooklyn designers will unveil their creations at the first BK Fashion Week(end), May 5-7, in the Tobacco Warehouse at Empire Fulton Ferry Park, between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges in DUMBO.

Organized by Rick Davy, a stylist for Black Entertainment Television, and his partner, publicist Cybelle Sandy, the invitation-only events are inspired by Manhattan’s twice-yearly Seventh on Sixth fashion weeks, but promise a flavor that is distinctly Brooklyn.

"We love Brooklyn so much," Davy told Go Brooklyn in a recent interview. "We have so many great designers here that I style celebrities with. Everybody who works in the fashion business and does Seventh on Sixth actually lives in Brooklyn."

Davy says one of the goals of his BK Style Foundation, the non-profit parent company for the event, is to create a venue where gifted Brooklyn clothing artisans can show their work and get the attention they deserve from the global fashion industry.

"There are so many young, talented kids in Brooklyn, and they always seem to have to go to Manhattan - to the Fashion Institute of Technology or Parsons School of Design - before they can be solidified in the business," he explained. "We wanted to open up some kind of foundation to support youths who are really so fashion-driven, but have no direction."

A limited number of established designers and edgy newcomers were selected to participate in the Brooklyn shows after a team of stylists and other industry professionals reviewed portfolios of their work (sounds like a reality show).

Davy noted that the foundation plans to host longer, seasonal fashion events, starting this fall, in the hopes of giving even more designers exposure.

"We asked the designers to wow everyone and show couture," he said. "We tried to get as much couture as we could. If a designer wanted to show his or her fall line, that was fine, but we asked them to show more couture because it’s fun and more exciting for a premiere. Then, when we go in September, we will show the Spring 2007 (collectio­ns)."

Unfortunately, for most style lovers, the Brooklyn events won’t be any easier to infiltrate than the ones that take place in those big, white tents in Bryant Park. Only the fashion press, buyers, celebrities and other industry people will be invited to watch designers like Roger Gary, Clark Sabbat, Simon Duncan, Nana Boateng and "Project Runway" finalist Zulema present their collections next weekend.

"It works best that way," Davy said. "It is about the designer - helping the Brooklyn designers get a foothold in the industry like everybody else. Having public come in, doesn’t maximize that. We would make money from it, but it doesn’t make anything happen for the designers and the whole purpose of this foundation and BK Fashion Week(end) is designer-driven and making Brooklyn recognized as a fashion destination."

Following an opening-night gala atop posh 70 Washington St. on May 4, the BK Fashion Week(end) will officially begin Friday with the presentation of Zulema’s frocks. In between offerings from H.O.R.R. by Habana Outpost, the Fort Greene Café’s house line, Charm Mills, and Brooklyn Industries, celebrities will be able to enjoy the location’s spectacular views, listen to music performed by local talent or relax in a luxury lounge, which, of course, features a spa and will have a chef on-hand.

In the meantime, journalists will be able to dash off to a multimedia center to fire off their stories about the day’s hottest trends.

Borough President Markowitz says he is looking forward to seeing Brooklyn get the recognition its most-fashionable citizens deserve.

"Our designers’ styles are as diverse as Brooklynites themselves," Markowitz said in a statement. "And their commitment to our borough adds so much color, flair and character to our unique fabric of life."

So, how are Davy’s plans being received by fashion folks beyond Brooklyn?

"A lot of people are not sure, because Brooklyn never had anything like this before," Davy said. "I think it will be a huge, huge, huge change in its image. We’re going to pull some designers out of the woodwork and we’re hoping, eventually, that we get the new Anna Sui or the new Ralph Lauren. That would be so exciting for us."

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