Syracuse Fashion Week model poses for photographer in gown. Dennis Fernando Photography. Photo courtesy of Lisa Marie Butler, executive director of SFW.

From innovative sketches to the runway, Syracuse Fashion Week is all about bringing style ideas to life.

After a brief intermission, the three-day event will return for the spring 2023 season, beginning Thursday and continuing through Saturday. Along with the fashion on display at several venues, each day will feature a specialized theme, highlighting carefully selected local designers representative of the daily concepts.

SFW has worked to curate the event for nearly decade in an effort to bring fashion awareness and equity to Central New York, said Lisa Marie Butler, founder and executive director of Syracuse Fashion Week.

Beyond SFW’s fashion focus, the organization’s events serve as a communal outreach tool for fundraising in support of the Food Bank of Central New York. SFW has raised nearly $20,000 by sharing a portion of all the fashion show ticket sales with the food bank, Butler said. 

This year’s event is shaping up to be one of the best yet. The SFW committee’s early extensive planning ultimately afforded them more “breathing room” to select sought-after designers and curate special themes, Butler said.

“We’re in a really good place this year, so yeah, I’m excited, and, as always, a little stressed out,” she said. 

Central Current reporter Yolanda Stewart sat down with Butler to get an inside scoop on Syracuse Fashion Week.

Stewart: Do you have any involvement with fashion? Were you a model or designer at some point?

Butler: I’m a theater person – that’s my background – and I got into fashion by way of costume design. I was at Syracuse University in the graduate program. I used to work at Syracuse Stage, and I was able to take graduate classes in costume design while I worked there. I started doing costume design and then I kind of segued into clothing design. I did have a shop, I had a shop out in Manlius and a little shop downtown for a few years, where I did custom-designed clothing, mostly bridal, and mother of the bride, and special occasions, which I still do. That’s really how I started doing shows – my love for theater, and then, my side gig designing clothes.

… [I haven’t created a collection in a while, but] the underground show has a circus theme, so I’m actually showing a circus collection at the underground show – my clown couture collection. It’ll be mostly theatrical, and fun, and funny. 

Stewart: What is the total number of designers featured in the 2023 spring season Syracuse Fashion Week?

Butler:  I want to say it’s 24, and I could be off by a few. Some of the designers are showing in more than one show, but it’s right around there. And then we’ve got – I haven’t even counted the models yet – but there’s a lot of models too, like 100, maybe somewhere around there. And then we have a huge staff of hair and makeup people as well. 

Stewart: What is the process of selecting designers for fashion week?

Butler:  A lot of them come to me. A lot of them follow Syracuse Fashion Week on social media and then they reach out to me and say, ‘Hey, you know, I’m an emerging designer,’ or ‘I wanna get started,’ or ‘I just put together my first collection,’ or ‘I just graduated from design school.’ I look at their portfolio, their work, and see what they’re doing. A lot of them have been in Syracuse Fashion Week since the beginning.

Stewart: What do you envision for the future of Syracuse Fashion Week?

Butler: I want to keep doing what we’re doing. I would like it to be a little longer, more than three days. I’d like it to be four or five, but that’s kind of stretching it. There’s only so many people in this area that will come to a fashion show.

Event details and locations:

  • Thursday April 20: “Local Love” at Marriott Syracuse Downtown, 100 E. Onondaga St., from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

This showcase will feature spring collections from local designers and boutiques. All guests interested in attending can purchase tickets here.

  • Friday April 21: “Underground Show” at Sharkey’s Bar and Restaurant in the downstairs event room, 7240 Oswego Rd, from 8 to 10 p.m. 

This themed event is SFW’s first-ever underground show presenting Cirque d’Couture, an evening of fashion, fantasy and circus, Butler said. All guests interested in attending can purchase tickets here.

  • Saturday, April 22: “SFW Gala Presents Lux” at the Mohegan Manor, 58 Oswego Street in Baldwinsville, from 8 to 10 p.m.

For the grand finale of SFW spring 2023 season, the Lux event will be hosted in the second-floor ballroom and will display designer collections for formal wear, including prom dresses, bridal gowns, cocktail dresses, menswear and other elegant looks. All gala tickets can be purchased here.

SFW invites all fashion and non-fashion enthusiasts to attend, dressed in their best stylish threads. Guests can purchase their tickets and view more information about each event on the official Syracuse Fashion Week website.

Editor’s note: An initial version of this story incorrectly stated that the fashion show had raised $30,000. It has raised $20,000.

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