16 Alaska designers are joining forces for a fundraising fashion show
Jan. 27—The Trend Alaska Fashion Show started in 2019 with modest ambitions — provide a showcase for Alaska designers and bring together fashion fans to have a little fun. Now in its third year, the show not only features the work of 16 designers, but also expects to raise more than $150,000 for an Alaska nonprofit.
"I thought it'd be really fun to do a fashion show because we didn't in 2018, 2019, we really didn't have any in Anchorage," said show founder Carol Fraser. "There's a bunch of wearable art fashion shows in Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan but there was really nothing in Anchorage."
This year's show will take place from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday at Everts Air Cargo, located at 6100 Boeing Ave. All proceeds from the show will be donated to Let Every Woman Know-Alaska, a nonprofit that offers women resources to help prevent gynecologic cancers.
Fundraising is a major plank of the show — last year's edition raised $125,000 for VOA Alaska. But it's also an opportunity for some of the state's top designers to be seen.
The designs will span everything from hand-knit pieces to loungewear to wearable art and traditional Alaska Native garments.
"It's New York City quality," Fraser said. "Just amazing designs. There's so much talent in the state."
Fraser, who works in the tourism industry, and some friends came up with the idea and worked to launch the initial event in 2019, which benefited the nonprofit Alaska Travel Industry Association. It raised $30,000.
COVID-19 derailed shows in 2020 and 2021 but it returned last year, with the Trend Alaska committee focusing on a nonprofit that would benefit youth and their families. With an all-women board, Fraser said working with LEWK this year was a natural fit and they hope to raise as much as $160,000-$180,000 this year.
"I called them up and fell in love (with the organization) immediately, they're just incredible people," she said. "It's so much more than a fashion show. We're able to help people and change people's lives."
Tiffany Briggs, who is a board member for LEWK, said the partnership is a boon for fashion fans and women's health advocates.
"This is a legit fashion show here in Alaska," she said. "Just the opportunity for outreach for us (is great). We are a statewide nonprofit for women and getting our name out there in communities that might not hear about us generally is huge for us."
Briggs was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2015, started volunteering in 2016 and joined the board in 2020. After an initial surgery, she went through extensive treatment that eventually led to another surgery and multiple rounds of chemotherapy.
But on April 20, 2016, she had her last chemo session and has had no evidence of the cancer since. Gynecologic cancers can be difficult to identify, so Briggs said staying vigilant is key.
"We really have to be our own advocates, we have to listen to our bodies," she said. "They'll give us these subtle hints and we have to stick to our guns. If we know something isn't right — it's not normal for us, keep pressing."
Last year's theme was post-apocalyptic trends and this year's is "lifting Alaskans," with the venue, Everts Air Cargo, in mind. Fraser said attendees are asked to wear white in honor of the aviation theme, and as an accent, one of the five colors that represent gynecologic cancer.
Fairbanks designer Sarah Dexter is one of the 16 whose work will be on display Saturday. She creates small collections that are tailored to fit clients. She mostly works with women's wear and specializes in knits.
The collection she'll display at the show will feature a lot of shimmer and shine, as well as a lace knit with a sheer base. She will also be doing some fanciful twists on the traditional garments.
"I have some hoodie and hoodie jumpsuits with exaggerated sleeves and a 'snow pea,' a merge between a pea coat and a snowsuit," she said.
Not only are the designers diverse in their craft, they're also diverse geographically. There are representatives from Sitka, Ketchikan, Skagway, Juneau, Kenai, Soldotna, Palmer, Fairbanks and Kotzebue, as well as Anchorage.
"When we first started it was Southeast-heavy because there is much design talent there," Fraser said. "We did start looking geographically to make sure the whole state was represented."
Linda Leary operates FisheWear out of Anchorage. Her legging designs were an instant hit with Alaskans and she's continued to diversify into other apparel and active gear like dry bags, waders and fishing packs.
"We're trying to create fun products for women to wear that are functional and have some technical capabilities as well as just makes them feel competent so they want to get out on the water and go have some fun," she said.
She participated in the first Trend Alaska show and discovered some new designers, including one who shared space in her Midtown complex.
"Alaska is very entrepreneurial," she said. "They're all trying to make the most of it."
Fraser said the show will close with an interpretive dance featuring actual cancer survivors representing the five types of cancer. She said hearing the stories of the survivors has given the show a new sense of importance.
"We're all so emotionally involved in making this successful now for the women who have died already or the women who are fighting it," she said. "It's because a mission now instead of just an event."