Fierce Fashion Rules at Bethesda Row

By: McLean Robbins

Stylish attendees and intrigued bystanders alike packed Bethesda Row Friday evening for a full-scale runway performance, sponsored by the shops of Bethesda Row, as part of a three-day fashion event dubbed the Front Row.

Despite fears of ominous weather that threatened to move the show inside, models took to an outdoor catwalk showcasing both summer and fall fashions from shops such as Urban Chic, Tickled Pink, J. McLaughlin, Luna, Wear It Well, City Sports, Ginger, and Lucy.

The audience was happy to see summer trends such as bright colors, chic sheaths, and fashionable shorts.

Tweeds, muted colors, and simple silhouettes offered a preview of the decidedly more somber fall ’09 collections, which looked stylish and ladylike—but also slightly boring.

The event—the highlight of three days of trunk shows, book signings, and movie screenings—featured special guest Christian Siriano, an Annapolis native and winner of Project Runway season four.

The runway show thrilled hundreds of onlookers, an interesting mixture of guests who had come for the event and families just strolling by. There were both stylishly attired twenty- and thirtysomethings as well as excited tweens and teens hoping, it seemed, for a chance to walk the catwalk and catch a glimpse of Siriano.

A diminutive Siriano (so tiny! so fierce!) sat front row at the show, but when he was introduced to the crowd by emcee Pamela Sorensen, he merely waved. After the show, he was promptly ushered to a table at the nearby restaurant Redwood, where he dined with his mother before (we’re told) heading back to Annapolis for the evening.

No, Siriano wouldn’t be granting interviews, speaking with fans, taking photographs, or signing autographs for the many tween girls eagerly clustered around the runway. His publicist and Front Row’s coordinator, Barbara Martin, excused his diva-like behavior with polite excuses—Siriano was feeling sick, he was tired, and he had done his (minimal) mingling before the show.

It was the disappointment of the evening—the hometown-boy-made-big practically shunning his fan base.

Still, the crowd enjoyed the runway event, many opting to sip specially made “Fierce” cocktails at Redwood’s patio.

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