Slideshow: The fifth annual fashionSPARK

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The only thing taller than the models were downtown’s towering buildings this past Friday at the fashionSPARK Fashion Show. Twenty local designers and five jewelry designers sent their creations down a brightly lit runway in the middle of an enthusiastic, standing-room crowd at the open-air City Plaza.

The designs ranged from comfortable hippie-wear reminiscent of a winter in Asheville (LLLavender) to post-apocalyptic war-zone knitwear (Gabrielle Duggan). Many of the designers opted for earth-friendly materials, including Payton-Alexis, who showed partially sustainable wedding dresses with striking silhouettes and muted colors and finished with a dress made entirely from used coffee filters.

Coffee filters weren’t the only unusual material. Another designer, Zac Schell, showed bikinis and chainmail, perhaps for your next S&M pool party.

One of the absolute crowd favorites, however, was the jaw-dropping work of Jess Pati. The pair of artists behind the line created elegant, unique cocktail dresses that beautifully straddled the line between haute couture and ready-to-wear. Their outfits ranged from high-necked embroidered frocks to ruffled skirts paired with tops embellished with sophisticated black knitting.

Of the jewelry designers, Good Girls Studio, Inc. stood out for the simple fact that the models were dressed simply enough to let the jewelry display itself. Each model wandered down the runway, martini glass full of pearls in hand, looking very much the demented socialite in long bauble necklaces and 1930s-esque swagger.

Whether the models were strutting to remixes of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ upbeat “Heads Will Roll” or taking it down a notch to The Rat People’s “Shane Domino,” the crowd had enthusiasm for all of their favorite designs, showing support for the most beautiful and the most outrageous clothing alike.

Raleigh’s elite rubbed elbows with suburbanites, all bedecked in the latest fashions themselves, and the designers reciprocated: Each took a bow on the runway after his or her collection was exhibited. The fifth annual fashionSPARK was a rousing success, and no doubt many people left the show ready to come back for the city’s next showcase of local couture.

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