Fashion. Fun. Friends. Fantastic Memories, Pt 1(Milwaukee Fashion Week.)
Updated: Nov 6, 2019
They say, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step.” Clarification. In my world, I believe I’ve covered tens of thousands of miles simply by taking that proverbial “just one step!”
Whether it was my first real “move” as a single woman post divorce or agreeing to compete in our local Dancing with our Stars event (raising funds for the American Red Cross,) I’ve learned that stepping outside ones comfort zone is a beautiful thing.
Heck, it’s a VERY scary thing. Lets face it, heading into unknown territory also interestingly enough can bring enlightenment and growth. And Lord knows I needed to grow and perhaps become a bit more enlightened.
Truth be told, can one ever become too enlightened? IMHO, enlightenment should always be welcomed. Even when “getting there” feels uncomfortable at times.
As a small town girl, even I knew that there was much yet for me to experience. I needed to challenge myself...and needed to feel empowered. But most of all, I needed to feel that I was making a difference...even if it were in the most minuscule of ways. THAT is something I thank my family for...for planting the seeds/roots and helping me understand the importance of having a servants heart.
Fast forward. A leap of faith. A new career opportunity. My love of all things fashion. Another relocation. And now even MORE curiosity. So let the journey continue! But this time...in Milwaukee.
Alright. What can I say? I wanted to experience everything Milwaukee had to offer (or at least as much as this single girl could take in AND afford.) I have always been drawn to architecture, music and the arts. People. Diversity. Diversity in culture. And, well of course...FASHION! It’s no surprise that when I saw Facebook information about MKEFW (Milwaukee Fashion Week) in the fall of 2018 I wanted to have a front row seat! I mean c’mon! Helloooooo!!!!...I dressed ALL my Barbie’s in makeshift TP creations as a child (because all of the store bought creations simply weren’t as good as my own!) I loved the lines on a woman’s body, texture and color on random fabrics (even as a child.) And yes, I cut ALL my Barbie dolls hair. PIXIE style of course!...
...or even a short sharp bob (which in reality was a rather rough and messy sharp bob. Remember....I was a child...with curiosity and a vibrant imagination.) I...was ALWAYS recreating!
Today? I am a Personal Stylist/Wardrobe Consultant at Faye's in Mequon,WI. A Wardrobe Consultant. And, I’d like to think that I’m a pretty damn good one too albeit still learning. Growing. Marching to my own beat...with the best of every woman’s heart...in MY own heart! It’s the sole reason I relocated southward to Milwaukee! This “passion” I have is to make sure EVERY woman, no matter size, age, ethnicity or financial status...FEELS. LIKE. A. QUEEN!
Interestingly enough, nearly two years ago, I was given an unbelievably beautiful opportunity. To DRESS WOMEN! Therefore, MKEFW was exactly what I wanted to experience! A no brainer, right? Therefore, I repeat...let the journey continue.....
As a first time attendee at one of the MKEFW18 shows, I experienced many thoughts afterward. First, I could not imagine the work and time involved to carry it all out successfully. Kudos to those behind the scenes! The show ran like a well-oiled machine! At least in my opinion as an audience member it seemed as such.
Second, I was able to preview a multitude of unique fashions from just as unique and diverse designers! All I kept thinking was, “how can I get my hands on that... I WANT that!” I made a bit of an attempt to locate the designer and “make it happen,” (in person and via social media afterward) but ultimately purchasing what I desired didn’t come into fruition. I left thinking about what could be done in the future to make it easier for a potential customer to purchase. Not to mention, draw interest and business towards a designer. I thought about how my profession could possibly lend itself into making that all happen.
Next, I noticed those around me and those modeling fashions before me. Heck, I’m a people watcher, I admit it!!!! All so beautiful!!! But...all VERY young! Diversity in ethnicity and shape/size was present around me, but in my observation as to age... not so much. So once again I left thinking about how as a 48 year-old at the time... as one who was prepared to make a purchase/connection ....how WONDERFUL it would have been to have seen a few more women like me (40’s and 50’s) up on the runway modeling. In addition...I wished my fellow GF’s were with me to watch the show! All are immensely interested in fashion and as I already know...LOVE to shop! Ultimately, I left excited....yet wanting to eagerly share my thoughts and observations.
A few days after the show I reached out to Reb Reimer at MKEFW. We had a beautiful conversation, and I sensed her “want” to know my own thoughts on multiple levels. It was clear that her team truly was invested in the continual growth of this event. She was attentive and took my feelings/observations/opinions to heart. I believe somehow amidst the conversation she spoke about a workshop they’d be hosting in the next few months.
After that conversation, I marked my calendar to attend the workshop. Why?...because this 48 year-old was now determined to learn a few of the “ins and outs” of runway modeling. I was about to throw my hat into the ring!
In mid-February I enlisted my daughter Paige to attend the MKEFW workshop with me. The team (Deb Riemer, Brittany Victoria, David Hathaway, Joshua Samson and Michelle Angelique Borrerro) hosted the workshop and made us feel welcomed. It was clear they LOVE what they do! Ultimately, I learned what I felt was challenging and could perhaps utilize while coaching a few of my pageant clients, regardless of whether I would make the cut at the then upcoming auditions.
The first round auditions? Packed. So many young men and women, as well as children. All practicing quietly in every corner of the venue. Me?...much older. And, as mentioned previously a creature of the senses. I couldn’t help but people watch and take it all in. The sights, sounds, scents, energy, etc. Now keep in mind, I don’t get too nervous about much in life. I can usually keep it somewhat under wraps. But for some reason, this was very different. I was CLEARLY the oldest by far. Yep! there I was, wearing the quintessential fitted black leggings, sports top and heels. Very very VERY high heels by the way. And my legs were....SHAKING! What? Yes, I said shaking. Like a baby giraffe just out of its mother’s womb! Heck, I could handle the heels, but this crazy shaking that I couldn’t seem to control was unexpectedly surprising to me. Soon thereafter... I heard my name called...”CARLA VANDER LOOP.”
It was officially "go time." LET THE AUDITION COMMENCE!
I’m happy to say that me and my shaking newborn baby giraffe legs made it through round one of auditions. A few days later I was notified that I made it to round two and one step step closer to my goal of modeling in MKEFW. However, during round two I’d be auditioning for the designers who would be selecting their models for the show. Round two came and went. This time I actually DID practice and felt much more comfortable. No shaking limbs and much more confidence. I gave myself a little pat on the back afterward and chalked it up to the practice and slowly gaining a bit more confidence as this journey unfolded before me.
Side Note: My favorite memory from the second audition? The adorable young girl standing next to me. I asked her age and name. She then asked me my age. I confidently stated, “My name is Carla Vander Loop and I’ll soon be 49.” With an extremely surprised and overly concerned look on her face she immediately responded by saying, “OMG, but they’ll know you’re near 50!” I nodded, smiled proudly and said, “That’s okay. I’m happy with my age.” I...felt good.
And with that, guess what showed up in my email box a few days later? That’s right, an invitation to model...in ALL THREE SHOWS of MKEFW! Honestly, I thought that maybe I’d be selected for one night. But ALL THREE?...and for 6 different designers! I truly was bursting with pride and excitement. I could not wait to represent those my age and proudly showcase so many uniquely constructed fashions created by talented and diverse visionaries! GRATEFUL does not even begin to express how I felt.
Summing it all up, my experience at MKEFW was nothing less than incredible! Friends, family and coworkers supported my efforts and were treated to three epic shows. I feel blessed to have modeled for 6 incredible designers, all listed below. I encourage you to look each up on Facebook or Instagram, as they all bring a creative
Lyn Leannais Kream
Infrastalfia - Electa Royal
GEARHEAD Fashion - Paula Hare
Modeling in Milwaukee Fashion Week?...GOAL ACHIEVED! And the BEST part of it all? A few of the items I wore on the runway ACTUALLY SOLD!!!!
From the very start, my mission was to represent the 45+ age bracket in a positive light, bringing forth more diversity in age AND help designers actually sell their product! Both of which I believe I have done to the best of my ability. An added bonus? I gained a bit more self confidence, feel more empowered and placed myself outside the comfort zone for a good cause!
Therefore, anyone who has reservations about their age or their abilities due to age?...just remember...
49 TRULY IS FABULOUS!!! And yes, I foresee 50 being even better!
For those interested in Milwaukee Fashion Week or would like to support this event through sponsorship please email Deb Reimer at: email@example.com
Like what you're reading?...
Later this week, find out why 70 is the new 70!
A sneak peek into an EPIC birthday party at the Saint Kate's in Milwaukee celebrating my employer/mentor..the beautiful Faye Wetzel FUN. FASHION. FRIENDS. FANTASTIC MEMORIES. Pt 2.