Asheville Fashion Week is Back


Asheville Fashion Week is Back

  • Sarah Merrell

    Sarah Merrell serves as Community Director for Asheville Fashion Week and directs fashion shows in the area. She is the Digital Media and Production Manager for Mary Beth West...

Asheville Fashion Week

A massive and expansive runway shone under the lights and music reverberated. Over one hundred models strutted in designs ranging from decadent gowns with long trains to fresh and spring looks. This was not New York or L.A.—it was Asheville Fashion Week.

After a successful inaugural year, Asheville Fashion Week is back for 2016. Hosted by Gage Models & Talent Agency, the event takes place August 3-6 and provides a relevant outlet for members of the area’s burgeoning fashion community along with high production value not usually found in cities the size of Asheville. While a majority of the designers are local to Asheville, it also attracts designers from nearby cities. Designers who participate reap numerous benefits like photos, networking, advertising and the ability to showcase in front of a large audience. 

AFW is different from fashion weeks in other cities as the designs embody the spirit and aesthetic of Asheville. Attendees can expect to see designs that are upcycled, organic, handmade and artistic. 

Local Asheville fashion designer McKinney Gough, who is back for a second year, looks forward to showcasing her upcycled line. “This year’s line celebrates the wearability of the pinup trend that can be upcycled from garments and fabrics you already own or are readily available in secondhand stores. The majority of my garments are made from repurposed linens and altered off-the-rack items.”

(Photo by Max Ganly, Hair and Makeup by Devynn Potter, Design by McKinney Gough)

In line with Asheville’s eco-friendly mentality, Asheville Fashion Week designer Rachel Weisberg uses organic fabrics that are hand dyed. A first-time AFW designer, Weisberg looks forward to the event. “I’m so excited to be showing my collection at Asheville Fashion Week. As a designer who creates everything locally, and sells internationally, I’m proud to be part of a fashion week that represents my community. Asheville is an inspiring community filled with limitless talent,” said Weisberg. 

(Photo by Jeff Haffner, Design by Rachel Weisberg)

Designer Angel Blanco, originally from Venezuela and now residing in Knoxville, sees Asheville Fashion Week as an advantageous platform to showcase his work and has worked diligently on his designs. “I have put in many sleepless hours of hard work because I love what I do and I’m going to deliver a final product that feels amazing. For me, creating is everything, so I’ll give my all for fashion week and represent my country, Venezuela,” said Blanco. He will be showcasing his designs in the Grand Finale event on Saturday, August 6. His collection, Hello New York Fashion 2017, is inspired by the essence of New York City. 


(Photo by Jasmine Babyj Newman, Hair & Makeup by Belleza Salon, Design by Angel Blanco)

Designers aren’t the only ones in the fashion community benefiting from this event. For models, it’s an opportunity to gain experience, build a resume and to obtain professional photos that can aid in developing a portfolio. 

Parents of eight-year-old Asheville Fashion Week model A.J. Thomas found Asheville Fashion Week to be a rewarding experience. “Asheville Fashion Week gave her the opportunity to walk in a professional show and gain confidence and experience. It helped her as a model to learn the ins and outs of walking in a fashion show, and taught us lessons as parents about how to help her. Everyone was kind and helpful,” said Anna Morrison Thomas. 

While her parents found value, A.J. found it to be memorable. “When I went to Asheville Fashion Week, I had a lot of fun. Backstage was my favorite part. There were lots of cool clothes. I was very excited to walk first on the runway. And the best part thing is, I get to walk in Asheville Fashion Week again this year,” said Thomas.

Even for models with previous experience, Asheville Fashion Week helped hone their skills, like local model and high school student Sydney Butler. “I wanted to experience a type of modeling that’s different from print—runway. I loved walking the runway, I met some great new people and got some really good pictures too. Wearing these amazing clothes and working with great people all make it an incredible and memorable experience,” said Butler.

 (Model Sydney Butler at Asheville Fashion Week 2015, Photo by Jim Rigsby) 

As designers put the finishing touches on their collections, and models practice their runway walks, anticipation continues to build for this not-to-miss event that comes once a year. Tickets are on sale now through the website along with a schedule and more information on this four day event at