To many, Fashion Week may seem like an exotic spectacle, a privilege reserved for the most infamously luxurious cities in the world—Paris, New York, London, Milan.
But Utahns challenged this preconception during the week of Feb. 23–27 with their own contribution, the first annual Utah Fashion Week. The show began in 2014 and was previously called Provo Fashion Week, but the event received a new name and renewed attention from the public this year.
The week featured three days of sold-out fashion shows showcasing local up-and-coming designers, avant-garde looks, wedding dresses, eveningwear and casual daywear.
The festivities were an opportunity for designers to show off their unique looks and was perhaps most significant for several of the participants who were exhibiting their collections on the catwalk for the first time.
One of these up-and-coming designers was 21-year-old BreeKel Orton from Springville, Utah.
“This is my first [show] of many,” Orton said. “I want to do this the rest of my life.”
Models strutted down the catwalk sporting Orton’s modern daywear line that incorporated bold shapes, leather, geometric cutouts and a signature touch—sunglasses instead of jewelry.
“As soon as they turned on my song, my heart started jumping,” Orton said.
She said she chose to use sunglasses during parts of her show because her collection was made for people to wear anywhere, every day and because she wanted to surprise people.
Orton was not always interested in fashion design. In fact, in middle school, she was scared and intimidated of the sewing machine, and she said she had different aspirations as a child.
“When she was young, she wanted to be Snow White in Disneyland,” said Judy Orton, BreeKel’s mother. “I can still see her doing that, too, or designing for Disney.”
In her final year of high school, Orton said she decided to give sewing a shot, and she has taught herself the craft since then. She worked at a JoAnn’s Fabric store and a bridal shop and said those experiences helped her realize her passion for clothing design.
“I am a little bit of a shy person,” Orton said. “Working there made me realize how much I love helping girls out.”
She said her clothes are both a method of self-expression and a way to make the women wearing them feel beautiful.
“When I was younger, in high school, I had my own insecurities,” Orton said. “The way how I can get away from that and become a stronger person is through fashion, through art and through the beauty of it.”
That is a sentiment she said she wants those who wear her clothes to experience, too.
“If I can create anything that can help a woman feel good about herself and feel that she is beautiful and the goddess that she is, I have accomplished what I need to accomplish.” Orton said.
Surrounded by her family, friends, models, boyfriend and boyfriend’s family, Orton seemed almost to glow with accomplishment and love.
“I’m really proud of her,” said Judy Orton, family member. “I hope that she’s learned that hard work pays off, and I think that good things have already come for her.”
Students looking to get involved in Utah Fashion Week will have to wait until next year, but can check out all the 2016 looks at wcforummedia.com.