North Bay Fashion Ball to enliven fashion, art scene
There’s an electrifying fashion ball brewing in Sonoma County, promising to bring glitz, glam and plenty of excitement to Petaluma’s Phoenix Theater this weekend.
Founder Cincinnatus Hibbard, with other artists and creatives, is staging the North Bay Fashion Ball, a hybrid runway show and queer fashion extravaganza, at the Phoenix on Saturday.
The multifaceted event will feature dance performances, a DJ, live airbrushing, drag queens, an open runway, fashion collections by featured local artists and designers, a dance party, parading drummers, and dance pop and celestial ambient music.
“It’ll be a loving and spontaneous space. It’s a unity space, a queer space and a multigenerational space,” Hibbard said of the event that will highlight the local arts and fashion scene and support the LGBTQ+ community. “It’s going to be fun and chaotic with lots of sashaying, posing and gushing over each other’s clothing.”
Attendees are invited to come dressed as bright, bold and colorful as they like and compete for a tiara in the ball-pageant at 7 p.m., with seven themed categories: tarot card, Met Gala, gender drag, pop/rock star, upcycled/recycled, festival wear and Y2K. The overall winner will be invited to present a fashion collection at next year’s event.
“Pull out that item in your closet that’s glamorous and fun that you never get to wear out,” Hibbard said. “There’s no judging, no hierarchy, no vetting of a particular look or body shape. We want to empower and uplift people.”
Local fashion professionals will show off their creations in an 8 p.m. designer runway show. Featured will be fashion designer Janet Aguirre, upcycled fashion makers Mathilde Amiot and Joshua Thwaites, artist and clothing painter Alejandro Salazar and Buck Lucky Collective founder Lena Claypool.
Hibbard came up with the idea for the event one day last fall while sipping wine with his artist friends Salazar and Ammon Sigur.
“I thought, ‘I have all these amazing, talented friends that don’t have a platform. Let’s build that creative house for them,’” Hibbard said.
Malcolm Stuart, a visual artist from Santa Rosa who will airbrush designs on clothing during the event, believes the fashion ball will enrich and liberate the community.
“What if everyone in the world wore gray? How would people feel? The clothes we decide to wear symbolize freedom,” said Stuart, who has made airbrush art for nearly 18 years. “Life is too short to dull yourself down to fit in.”
Featured designer Aguirre will showcase a seven-piece pants collection made of found and hand-sewn garments and other materials, including stuffed animals. Aguirre likes the practice of “boro” — the Japanese word for reworking and repairing textiles.
“I’ve been hoping for this,” said Aguirre, who lives in Cotati. “It’s a huge deal to convene for the sole purpose of fashion. It’s huge. I hope people are inspired to start crocheting, weaving and working with textiles. Working with the bare minimum can do the most.”
The event, originally set for Jan. 28, was postponed until May 28 due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19.
The plan is to make the North Bay Fashion Ball an annual event, Hibbard said.
“I hope this creates something that is distinctly Sonoma County,” Hibbard said. “We’re not the cultural backwater of the fashion and art scene of San Francisco, Los Angeles or New York. We hope the great unknowns of Sonoma County will come forward.”
You can reach Staff Writer Mya Constantino at email@example.com. @searchingformya on Twitter.
General Assignment/Features Reporter
Stories can inspire you, make you laugh, cry and sometimes, heal. I love a feature story that can encapsulate all of those things. I cover the interesting people that exist around us, art and music that move us and the hidden gems that make Sonoma County pretty cool. Let's explore those things together.