Where: The Belcourt Theatre 1925 hall
When: September 30, 7:04 p.m.
The backstage atmosphere is filled with excitement, anticipation and clouds of hairspray. Racks of clothing are crammed into every available space in the Belcourt's cramped nether regions, and the surrounding models are trying not to trip over them, or each other.
I'm just trying to stay out of the way. I slide through the narrow hallway and nearly take down a tray of sandwiches. Someone steadies me, spilling champagne on me in the process. Oh well. That's why you wear black to a fashion show — someone is bound to spill champagne on you.
We're checking out the behind-the-scenes action immediately before the Belcourt Theatre's nD Festival fashion show, the final event in the annual fundraiser that raises money for the theater's educational and community outreach programs. But this is no ordinary fashion show. This one features civilians as models. And by civilians, we mean a sampling of the many fabulous Nashvillians who make this city so unique and vibrant.
Five local stylists — Aria Cavaliere Negri, Hannah Jones, Milton White, Carla Antonelli and Sierra Jacobson — dressed 40 individuals with looks from local boutiques and designers to represent four decades of Nashville style: the 1940s, the 1960s, the 1980s and present day.
On stage right, I'm chatting with Imogene + Willie's Elise Yetton, who — despite the fact that she actually looks like a real model — has a case of the nerves. "I look like Amy Winehouse!" she laughs as she taps a vein on her inner arm for effect. Yetton is referring to her large, impressively coiffed '60s hair, which really would make Winehouse — R.I.P — jealous.
"I'm so nervous!" she exclaims. "Dave just gave me a shot, so that's helping!"I glance at inventor and entrepreneur Dave Gilbert, who pulls said flask out of his jacket and offers me a swig. Scotch. Nice.
We scramble to the other side of the stage, where Suzy Wong, also known as restaurateur Arnold Myint, is in various stages of undress — as in, dress is on, wig is off. As Suzy gets some last-minute touch-ups from MAC makeup artist Andrew Pentecost, I remark that I love her sequined dress. Suzy reveals that she made it herself. Of course she did. It's sparkly, over-the-top and incredible, just like Suzy ... and Arnold.
Near the back of the line I spy two familiar faces, Yazoo's Neil McCormick and NPT's Joe Pagetta. Neil totally owns the '40s look, and Pagetta ... well, Pagetta is wearing eyeliner. Clearly, he's in the '80s section of the show. (Truth? Pagetta is rocking the eyeliner.)
Neil and Joe are deep in a conversation on the six types of people you never want to meet, including "people who go to Gatlinburg in the summer" and "people who go to Opry Mills on Sunday." I learn that these groups are not mutually exclusive and move on.
As much fun as the backstage crew is, it's time to take our seats so we can get a prime view of the show, which kicks off with a killer house band composed of Loney John Hutchins, Courtney Jaye, Jack Lawrence, Sam Smith and William Tyler. Honorary co-chair Matt Eddmenson of Imogene + Willie entertains the audience with a charming story, told to him by Harmony Korine.
As a kid, Harmony was watching a movie at the Belcourt — "probably skipping school," Eddmenson surmised — when he witnessed an older man masturbating in the front row. Harmony ran to the concession stand to inform the manager of the crime, and apparently, the girl at the concession stand told him, "That is the manager."
Oh, beloved Belcourt. You've come a long way, baby. And as for the fashion show? I think the pictures speak for themselves ...
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