Witnessing Santa Cruz’s annual fall FashionART runway show is as close to a psychedelic experience as you can get without ingesting potent, mood-changing chemicals or having to wait 12 hours for them to wear off. That’s not to say this visual feast of color and supernatural imagination won’t implant long-lasting images in one’s occipital lobe.
Also, anything can happen. I realized this at my first-ever FashionART experience back in 2012—somewhere between the obscured flash of bare buns beneath black erosion-control cloth and aluminum tubing of producer Angelo Grova’s “Eurasia” and the emergence of the Great Morgani, amphibious in full-body snakeskin and teetering on foot-high “fantasy heels” at a time when only Lady Gaga had lived to tell the tale.
Santa Cruz’s now 11-year-old merging of fashion and art can feel, at times, like plunging into an underwater dreamscape streaming jellyfish tentacles and glints of silver, and at others, a forward-thinking musing on what style and self-expression mean to Santa Cruz—materializing out of denim and lace rescued from a grandmother’s trunk, upcycled candy wrappers and skilled repurposings of the outlawed plastic bag.
While the lasting imprint of 2016’s pairing of animal horns and Tim Burton-esque finger extensions (from Hill Tribe Fusion’s “Black and White Collection,” featured on this week’s cover) show no signs of fading away, the magical mystery tour that is FashionART 2017 prepares to take off on Saturday, Sept. 23.
Eight designers and 12 artists hailing from Santa Cruz and the Bay Area—a mix of experienced veterans and newbies—will participate this year, says local designer Christina Morgan Cree. Cree, who has taken the reigns as executive director this year, has added a 2018 FashionART calendar, which features photos by Jana Marcus from various years throughout FashionART history—available online and at the show—as well as discounted tickets for students and seniors. A portion of ticket sales go to the nonprofit Santa Cruz Education Foundation. This year’s show, which begins at 7 p.m. at the Civic Auditorium, also promises stained glass, aliens, a sprinkling of steampunk, “geek couture,” models of all shapes and sizes, a trunk show, and the return of the Great Morgani, who just celebrated his 75th birthday. The rest is anyone’s guess.
Info: FashionART Santa Cruz 2017 is at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23 at the Civic Auditorium. Tickets are $20-$35.50 on santacruztickets.com. A portion of ticket sales go to the nonprofit Santa Cruz Education Foundation. Lineup and more at fashionartsantacruz.org.