Omaha Fashion Week: Avant-garde designs offer surprise, drama

A model shows designer Jenny Pool's work Tuesday night during the avant-garde collections on the second day of Omaha Fashion Week.

• Photo slideshow: Omaha Fashion Week, Day 2

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Tuesday's avant-garde collections during the second night of Omaha Fashion Week were inspired by nature, Edgar Allan Poe and robots, among other things. They included bright satin shift dresses and plaster bodices and were a reminder why the avant-garde shows are usually among my favorites.

Jenny Pool, a costume designer who also runs the Blue Barn Theatre's Witching Hour, started the night with a collection of beautiful gowns featuring simple Lycra adorned with vertical appliqued “veins” and bodices with long peach and pink tulle skirts.

The gowns were beautiful on their own, but what made the collection interesting was its execution. The first model to step onto the runway was bound with black ribbon, her dress bunched up at her ankles, knees and hips. A cagelike headpiece surrounded her face and shoulders.

Omaha Fashion Week

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As the show went on, each model was less constricted, until the last model was completely free. The result was dramatic and surprising, and very different from Pool's last OFW collection a few years ago that featured simple jersey dresses, which were very wearable (Pool wore a similar dress she had made for herself to Tuesday's show) but not as interesting.

“It's about letting go of whatever is holding you back,” Pool said.

Kristen Vanhessche followed Pool with a collection of cheerful satin shift dresses; one included petals resembling those of a tiger lily. Sabrina Jones showed a collection of ultra-bright '60s-meets-'90s party dresses inspired by the work of costume designer Colleen Atwood.

Tiffany Headley, whom some WE TV fans may recognize from the reality series “Obsessed With the Dress,” showed a dark goth collection featuring black satin, dark plaids, lace, stripes, ostrich feathers and a few ravens (one model carried a birdcage down the runway).

The collection was nothing like the custom pageant gowns she sketches on “Obsessed With the Dress,” which follows the staff of Omaha pageant boutique the Winning Crown.

Last up was another truly avant-garde collection — Angela Balderston's collection of futuristic plaster bodices, which models wore with nude hose, minimal makeup and sleek headpieces that resembled swim caps. Several had a mosaic effect.

One of the most striking was glitter-encrusted and surrounded by small sparkling spheres attached to the bodice by wires, giving the effect of a planet orbited by tiny moons.

Pool's and Balderston's works were selected for Saturday's finale, which will give audiences a chance for a second look.

Up tonight: ready-to-wear looks from six designers. The show begins at 8 p.m. and takes place under the tent on Capitol Avenue, between 10th and 11th Streets.

A few other notes from Tuesday's show:

» There's a Fiat parked in the courtyard near the OFW entrance, and someone will win it during Saturday's finale.

Just days before the shows began, Fiat contacted Omaha Fashion Week and offered the promotion, which OFW organizers agreed to, said Omaha Fashion Week founder Nick Hudson. Guests can sign up for the raffle in the VIP tent.

» Fashion blogger, stylist and OFW selection panel member Meghann Schense is wearing the work of a different Omaha Fashion Week designer each night of the show. Monday, she wore a floral turquoise dress by Fella Vaughn; Tuesday's look was a fringed, cream-colored piece from Terri Buckner.

For more information or to buy tickets, visit

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