As a makeup artist for the Twin Cities, Mao Xiong’s work takes her behind the scenes at local fashion shows where she has witnessed the growth of the local design community. But when it comes to her own Asian-American community, she thought representation on the runway was lacking. Xiong decided to do something about it. She and her creative colleague Kara Doucette, a chef specializing in Korean cuisine, came up with the idea of producing an event that would showcase Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) talent, from fashion to music to food. Called Coalesce, her inaugural fashion show, the first of its kind in the Twin Cities, takes place Saturday at Allianz Field, capping off Minnesota Fashion Week.
A testament to the hunger for cultural diversity in the arts, Coalesce is already sold out. But the show will be streamed live on fashionweekmn.com.
More than a show, Xiong says he wants Coalesce to be a collective, building a movement for AAPI creatives that will lead to future events. The inaugural fashion show will feature nine designers, each bringing four to 12 pieces to the runway. Not only did the co-producers target a wide range of designers and backgrounds, they planned for the collections to be shown together, rather than as distinct lines, as is typical of many multi-designer shows, further accentuating the spirit of collaboration.
Behind the scenes, nearly 100 volunteers have been working to bring the collective to life, including the creative lead team, make-up artists, hairstylists, mixed media artists and models.
“It’s really cool to see so many of these creatives and so many of our team members take a chance on us,” says Xiong. “And we couldn’t do it without them, it wouldn’t be something that people would want to come see without everyone involved.”
In the week leading up to the show, Xiong and Doucette described the community reception as extremely valuable, especially as the show sold out both general admission and VIP front row.
“It’s a show where we really just want a lot of positivity and representation. And with that, there’s some anxiety because we want to get it right,” says Doucette. “But so far, people have been very encouraging and rather than skeptical or critical, so having that positivity really motivates me.”
Meet the designers and check out their runway designs.
Coalesce will be streamed live on the MN Fashion Week website. A team of AAPI videographers will also post and edit a full tape of the show.