Fashion and popular music have been inextricably linked since Frank Sinatra made his bobby-soxed
fans swoon, terminally cool bebop jazz musicians wore berets, the Beatles got a whole lot of kids
in trouble with long hair, and the Sex Pistols rode the wave of design created by Vivienne
It should be a no-brainer to highlight them both in one weekend festival. As the organizers of
the Fashion Meets Music Festival, which opened its second year Saturday night, will tell you, it is
not as easy as it may seem.
last year’s program missed making its point by a long shot, this year’s
much-improved fest comes much closer.
First and foremost, the fashion runway has landed right in the middle of the Arena District’s
archway park, complete with icy lighting and a long white promenade. It is also midway between the
two largest stages.
When rapper Ludacris, the biggest act of Saturday afternoon, finished his set on the middle
stage, the crowd, perhaps 1,000 by then, scattered to the opposite ends of the festival’s giant “
Many came to rest at the fashion tent, just in time to watch Columbus designer Celeste
Malvar-Stewart trot out her collection. A perhaps-accidental intersection was formed between
fashion and music.
Outside, the crowd reflected the style consciousness of the festival slightly more this year
than last. Still, it was made of a wide range of mostly young people, very few pushing the
But Malvar-Stewart’s brave designs focused on gauzy, flowing pastiches of fabric, mostly white
but including a few earth colors. Outside, in a theme that may have echoed the collection, many
women were dressed in long, organically flowing skirts.
The confluence between clothes and tunes surely was an attraction to some. Zalexas Morris
volunteered because of her parallel interest in both. “It’s a good idea that draws more people,”
the 23 year-old sometime-model said. “It was my main reason for volunteering.”
Perhaps the message is getting through. Steve Dickson, a volunteer both years, said that the
main gate had for a time sold out of general admission tickets and that the festival clearly was
drawing better than the inaugural year. A Columbus police officer, watching at the other end of the
venue, agreed with this writer’s guess about the crowd number during the Ludacris set.
The festival has made other positive changes, as well. Gone are the Ferris wheel and the zip
line. The quality of food has improved, with the state fair stands replaced by local food
The selection even includes health-minded offerings such as the Short North shop Native Cold
Pressed juices. Owner Nicole Davis said the link is not so surprising and explained why she
approached the organizers: “Yoga and fashion is a big part of our brand. … There is so much more at
the core of what we do.”
As for the fashion part of the retail offerings, there is little chance of the runway designs
being found on the retail concourse, which included mostly T-shirt shops.
Alex Rosa, chief operating officer for Traxler Custom Printing, one of the city’s best-known
on-demand shirt producers, said he was not surprised by the lack of high-end boutique
representation. It would be impractical for those businesses, many of which are open during the
weekend, to drag their inventory out of their stores.
Reptile Fiction, a one-man electropop outfit, accompanied Malvar-Stewart’s presentation with
alternately otherworldly, gloomy and dreamy music, as the models paraded with serious
determination. Later, on the smallest stage, the One & Only PPL MVR played to a small crowd
with a fashion statement of its own. The five-piece psychedelic metal band featured a trio of furry
Sasquatches, pounding guitars, drums and screaming electronically altered vocals.
It may have been the most unique interpretation of the intersection all weekend.