Omaha Fashion Week: Drama and back stories define gowns

A wrap swirls as a model in a Fella Vaughn gown makes the turn during day four of Omaha Fashion Week. Thursday night's show featured evening wear by five designers. Tonight's show will move on to menswear and swimwear.

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Thursday night's show at Omaha Fashion Week was dedicated entirely to evening wear, making it one of the more dramatic shows of the week. The work of the five designers who showed their collections under the big tent on Capitol Avenue between 10th and 11th Streets included figure-hugging cocktail dresses, lovely bridal gowns and ballet-inspired ballgowns, among other creations.

Bridal designer Jillian Fellers opened the show with nine beautiful and beautifully made gowns inspired by the styles of the 1920s and 1930s. Most were satin and featured the bias cuts and drop waists of that era, but they also showed off the models' curves without being too clingy. They moved beautifully down the runway, and estate jewelry on loan from Borsheims provided a little sparkle.

Fellers, a Lincoln designer who showed her first collection at Omaha Fashion Week in February, has been busy since. A scout for “Project Runway” found her gowns on Etsy and invited her to try out for the show; she ended up being a semifinalist. Huffington Post Weddings has featured her designs, and she plans to take part in Kansas City Fashion Week in October.

Teen designer Hannah Olson followed Fellers and showed a collection of cocktail dresses inspired by her own experiences with bullying and depression. “I feel like this is something that happens to so many people,” Olson said.

Omaha Fashion Week

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Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Olson's first Omaha Fashion Week collection of plus-size party dresses was so well received by other teenage girls that she felt like she needed to make a statement with her second collection, too.

She worked with somber colors including black, taupe and burgundy, and bold vertical lines were hand-painted on some of the fabrics she used. Once again, all of her models were plus-size. Her show brought some audience members to their feet.

Fella Vaughn followed with a collection of gowns and cocktail dresses in red, black and white. Juantiesha Christian presented a collection of retro cocktail dresses, plus two great pairs of pants — a pair of Kelly green cigarette pants and a pair of black, high-waisted satin trousers that she paired with a cropped bustier. Her designs were also for plus-size women.

Kate Walz presented the last collection of the night. The 16-year-old designer and Omaha Fashion Week veteran offered a collection of gowns inspired by some of her favorite ballerinas from the 1960s. Walz, who has taken dance lessons since she was a little girl, dedicated the collection to her ballet teachers.

The looks were both structured and romantic. The first gown (one of my favorites) featured a structured strapless bodice in a beautiful floral satin, paired with a full tulle tea-length skirt the color of cotton candy. Another gown featured a simple slip dress with a floral overcoat with three-quarter length sleeves and rhinestone trim.

The collection was Walz's eighth, and the high school junior plans to eventually pursue a career in fashion.

She, Vaughn and Christian will show their collections again during Saturday's finale.

Tonight will feature two shows.

Menswear and swim collections will be shown at 8 p.m. Later, at 10 p.m., Omaha Fashion Week veterans Dan Richters and Buf Reynolds will produce an experimental show that they're calling Vessel, in which they will feature their own avant garde collections.

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