Arts preview: Drauma, Product Runway boast style all their own

Jim Fischer

Two alt-fashion events, one night of Columbus-style fashion-ganza.

And the magnificent Nina West as emcee for both? What more could you want? (Also, who else could pull it off?)

Product Runway, a biennial event of the International Interior Design Association, and Drauma, the fifth annual fashion party sponsored by Rendezvous Hair Salon and Evolved Body Art, share more than a date and an emcee. Despite some obvious differences, both events celebrate the creative community in Columbus via alternative approaches to fashion design and the traditional runway show. Both also feature a significant philanthropic component. And, this year, both celebrate iconic figures in pop and rock music.

"I have been very lucky to be part of both events in the past, so when I was asked to be back for both, I couldn't turn them down," West said. "Both events highlight creativity and foster growth for artists in our community in such a positive way. They both are very special to me."

This will be the fourth Product Runway in Columbus, an event that is held by IIDA chapters in other cities, as well. Tamra Fuscaldo, who coordinates publicity for the Columbus chapter, said the event focuses on the creativity of interior designers by offering an alternative outlet for their talent.

Design teams partner with manufacturers of products and materials used in interior design. Each fashion design must be made using at least 80 percent materials from the manufacturer - whether textiles from wall or floor coverings, tiles and laminates or even furniture (deconstructed, of course).

"People make amazing outfits out of everything," said Nicole Pallante, a representative with textile manufacturer Maharam.

Pallante said the focus of the event is not to promote or sell new products or gain new business. "The design dictates the product," she said, adding, "We want to win."

Molly Bryant, an interior designer with the firm HOK, confirmed the friendly-yet-competitive nature of the event. "We do this to challenge our creativity but we're also in it to win it," she said.

This year's event has a music icon theme, with teams challenged to create looks inspired by, among others, Cher, Gwen Stefani, Michael Jackson and more. The panel of judges includes local fashionista and past Project Runway contestant Kelli Martin and Columbus Idea Foundry founder and CEO Alex Bandar.

SWAGG will offer an after-show set of live music from the featured musical icons. Half of all proceeds benefit Dress for Success Columbus.

The fifth annual Drauma, a wild, weird, gender-bending event focused on fashion, hair and personal style, also provides an outlet for creatives of all types.

"Hair stylists, body painters, burlesque, drag, performance art. A little bit of everything," said co-coordinator Dakota Snide of Rendezvous Hair Salon. "I always say it's more than a runway show."

"Columbus is a hotbed of fashion, but Drauma takes it out of the mainstream and opens the door to all sorts of aspiring creatives," said Nick Wolak of Evolved Body Art, one of the co-presenters of Drauma.

"It's not 'our' event," Snide said of its co-sponsors. "There are a lot of really creative people in the queer community [and] the hair and fashion community who have embraced it and want to be a part of it."

For this year's event, 19 different main stage design performances will pay tribute to David Bowie. Themed "Oh! You Pretty Things," designers were randomly assigned a Bowie album/character on which to base their designs.

"Bowie personified Drauma," Snide said. "He was weird and fabulous, gender-bending and encouraged everyone to express yourself. That's what Drauma is all about."

Snide said audience members are as much a part of the evening as the show, going "all-out with their appearance" and dancing along to the stage shows.

"People don't come in costume, but more an exaggerated expression of their self," Snide said. "We like to say [wear] whatever makes you feel amazing."

New this year is a pop-up shop featuring merchandise from participating designers, offering guests an opportunity to purchase styles from the show and interact with the designers.

The Get Weird Dance Party and performances by DJ Push and friends will offer fun late into the night. Art Fusion and interactive decoration activities will have a David Bowie theme.

Those wishing to escape the mayhem can take a break in the White Room, a lounge area that will feature activities including Bondage by Kevin, belly dancing by Mythic Moves and the Drauma Pop-Up Shop.

Charities supported by this year's Drauma include Community Refugee and Immigration Services, serving the growing refugee and immigrant populations in central Ohio, and Columbus Youth Guild, providing opportunities for kids through sports, art and entrepreneurship.

Product Runway

Express Live

7 p.m. Thursday,

May 26

(Doors open 5:30 p.m.)

405 Neil Ave.,

Arena District



The Bluestone

8 p.m. Thursday,

May 26

583 E. Broad St.,