Move over Project Runway to make way for Hot Couture

23 Jan

Last Friday night I was lucky enough to experience Hot Couture, a fire filled fashion show and performance art spectacle at the Crucible in West Oakland. And wow – the night thoroughly surpassed my expectations.

If you’re not familiar with the Crucible, I think NovoScene described this place pretty accurately:

The Crucible is like that one little cousin you had when you were young that was always setting shit on fire. Every time you turned around-lighter in hand, I didn’t do it expression on face, flames everywhere… But it helps that the shit they set on fire is pretty damned cool and that you probably won’t get in trouble if you’re mom walks in and finds the place ablaze.

I’m not going to lie – I’m not a fashion expert, but the designers featured in this show were all incredibly talented. Check out this jacket from Antoniya Ivanova that I’m lusting after:

Anotniya Ivanova Jacket

From AreWeReally? Hot Couture Flickr set.

And take a good look at this hot collection from Eimaj Design and Escama Studio. In case you can’t tell, the handbags and metal on the dress are made from recycled aluminum pop tops.

Eimaj Design and Escama Studio at Hot Couture

From AreWeReally? Hot Couture Flickr set.

But the fire rings on the stage and outlining the catwalk were not the only flames of the night. Throughout the evening, Oakland firefighters walked across the catwalk, and at the end of the show they seemed giddy as they got the chance to play with fire instead of extinguish it:

Oakland Firefighters at Hot Couture

From AreWeReally? Hot Couture Flickr set.

And there was of course more fire throughout the night:

Fire Dancers Hot Couture

More Fire Hot Couture

From AreWeReally? Hot Couture Flickr set.

The models and fashions weren’t the only entertainment of the night though. It was really interesting to see and interact with the diverse mixture of people at the event. When Michael Sturtz, the Crucible’s director, asked how many people had been to the Crucible before, only half answered affirmatively. There was a great mix of burners, Oakland residents, and Bay Area fashionistas. At one point, I turned to my left and heard people admiring the welding involved in some of the fashion, and I turned to my right and heard two women comparing the designer clothing they were wearing. And I could tell they were more than a bit thrown off when Bad Unkl Sista’s fashion graced the stage, though I must admit even I was a bit disturbed by this performance art piece. Just try to imagine more than a dozen of these creatures slowly moving across the catwalk to the choppy beats of deconstructed techno:

Bad Unkl Sista Hot Couture

Bad Unkl Sista Hot Couture

From AreWeReally? Hot Couture Flickr set.

Unfortunately, the three night run of Hot Couture is over, but this post isn’t just here to tease you. They’ll likely have a fashion show again next year, and before that there are two events that should be just as hot:

  • The Crucible’s Benefit Fire Ballet, FIREBIRD: “L’oiseau de feu”, April 9-12 and 16-19, 2008. Last year, I missed out on the Romeo and Juliet fire ballet because I waited too long to buy tickets. So get your tickets ahead of time if you’re interested.
  • The Fire Arts Festival, July 9-12, 2008. This is the Crucible’s biggest event of the year and spans several blocks in West Oakland. Last year, the festival featured fire sculptures, fire games, and a fire opera. You can read all about last year’s event here.

Can’t wait until April for more fire? Check out AreWeReally?’s Flickr sets for hundreds of pictures from Saturday night’s fashion show gala event:

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