When it comes to organized fashion in Buffalo, there have been some ebbs and flows. There was a time when Buffalo had its own version of Fashion Week, though that eventually fizzled out. Recently, there have been efforts name to keep the local fashion dream alive, by retail entrepreneurs such as Novi Paluch (Sasmita Batik), who has represented her line at NY Fashion Week, and Tamora Lee (Rebel Behavior), who is always beating the Buffalo fashion drum. Then there’s Molly Hoeltke Worth who opened up The Factory Buffalo in 2019, and Arlene Kay who is the founder/owner of Fashion Lab NY (FLNY). Of course we have the Fashion and Textile Technology (FTT) Department, which is always good for an annual runway event or two. Also, we can’t forget about people like Dennis Wilson Jr. who publishes Panoramic Magazine, while promoting fashion forward events like the All White Affair.
Curious about what the future of fashion beholds in Buffalo, I decided to reach out to model Kimberly Bach, who is heading out of town tomorrow, to walk the NYC runway at the 10th Season of Couture Fashion Week, produced by Andres Aquino. In the past, Bach has played a big part in the Buffalo Fashion Community, particularly by producing the 2013 and 2014 Runway on the Water Fashion Show (for charity – renting out the USS Sullivan and USS Little rock).
“When Buffalo Fashion Week was still here – I participated in 6 seasons and walked for over 15 boutiques and designers,” Bach told me. “Currently, I am the lead model on the Silo City Photography project – a meeting of photographers from all over the world – including some who are brain surgeons who do photography as a hobby, and another who shoots professionally and has had work published in National Geographic.”
Aside from modeling, Bach is also a designer, who loves to get involved with the local fashion and design community, to push the envelope as much as she can in Buffalo.
“I won first place at the Refashionista Challenge @ Statler City – a fundraiser created by the Salvation Army with a Project Runway vibe,” Bach explained. “All items needed to be bought from Salvation Army, to be recreated into something amazing. I made a corset out of a record and umbrella, and a couture gown out of fabrics scraps sewn together to create a masterpiece. In addition to 1st place, I also won The People’s Choice Award.”
It turns out that aside from promoting fashion and design in Buffalo, Bach has also had plenty of experience working with some of the top fashion designers from all over the world.
“My very first fashion show was at the Waldorf Astoria followed by the New Yorker, Crowne Plaza Times Square. I have had the pleasure to walk the runway for 7 US designers, as well as Mexico, Turkey, Spain, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Russia… and even a designer who created her whole line out of medical supplies using plaster of paris to make corsets, and body bags to make wedding dresses!”
The more I spoke with Bach, the more we kept coming back to the same topic. With all of the local fashion designers and resources in this city, why is there not a single city-wide fashion show any more, especially one that correlates with one of the big NYC shows?
“There are so many hidden talents here,” said Bach, who is also a licensed cosmetologist. “Buffalo is like the speakeasy of the fashion world. We need to get everyone together to create that scene again. Buffalo deserves it – fashion is the element of the fairy tale that can easily become a reality. Wear whatever you feel like during the day, and when 5pm rolls around you can become somebody else by simply putting on a new outfit. We are so lucky to have people here like Ali Egan at Anatomy who could have taken her fashion career anywhere, yet she opted to do something with it in Buffalo. We have the people and the resources. It’s time to bring them all together.”
I asked Bach what immediately comes to mind when she thinks of heading to NYC for another runway show, and she had some interesting insight to share. “I’ve been doing this for ten years, but I know I won’t be doing it for another ten years,” she said, referring to aging in an industry that is not exactly forgiving. “But I will always go back to NYC to check out the shops in Soho and Chelsea, to see what the latest fashions are. As for being in these international shows, it can be very nerve wracking. There are 12 girls in one room, and then designers from all over the world walk in and make their selections on who they want to model their clothing, based on look, body type, etc. It’s intense.”
After the show, Bach likes to explore NYC, visiting her favorite haunts, including the Brooklyn Bridge and the Katharine Hepburn Garden. Then she goes to get a good slice of NY style pizza. “In all of these years, I’ve never been to the Statue of Liberty,” she pondered. “I think I will do that this year. I will also visit my favorite bead shop. I’ve always been interested in bringing some of these resources back to Buffalo, to create a better design shopping scene. From brick and mortar, to eCommerce, and back to brick and mortar [laughing]. We must strive to have a better connection to NYC when it comes to design and fashion – I think we can help to do that by creating a stronger community of people who love these types of things and want to see them flourish here in Buffalo.”
Lead image: Bach at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Buffalo