Kristen Frederick and Kristy Brezinsky have an eye for a good line — the cut of a garment, the way it falls, the collection of other pieces that come from the mind of a fashion genius.
The two former international models and longtime Naperville residents know their way around a runway, too. And as they approach their seventh yearly benefit fashion show, they’ve grown increasingly comfortable with the process of staging the massive autumn ode to high style.
The owners of Two K Productions sat down with The Sun recently to talk about where they’ve come with their signature event, and where they’re going.
Some aspects of the Sept. 26 show will remain as they’ve been from the outset. Local designers, as always, will take center stage, and proceeds from the day will remain in the community, at 360 Youth Services. And unlike some upscale showcases that charge designers up to $300 for each outfit they send down the runway, 630 invites select talent to put their work directly out for viewing by the fashion discerning, at no charge.
“The idea is that some of these (local) boutiques will buy from these designers,” Frederick said, noting that earlier shows spotlighted the establishments themselves as well.
Among the creations to be shown are pieces designed by eight students in the fashion studies program at College of DuPage, who will be making their debut appearances in a professionally produced fashion show venue.
Brezinsky said she and Frederick were asked to judge a spring show at the Glen Ellyn college, and the students’ portfolios already proved impressive.
“They were phenomenal,” Brezinsky said. “The pieces they were showing, first- and second-year students, just blew me away.”
Also unveiling new lines will be Chicago designers Niala Conte, who is launching her eponymous collection in a branching-out of a career that began in 2009 with the opening of her first boutique, Strut, in Geneva; and Sharon Reimer, introducing her edgy C.R.O.W. (create it/represent it/own it/wear it) apparel.
Along with shining the high beam directly on the designers, this year’s show will feature a ground-level runway, U-shaped and set apart in the Arista Hotel ballroom by a white carpet runner.
“We’re in our seventh year, and you have to change things up a little bit,” Frederick said.
The two have no plans to change their partnership with 360 Youth Services, which does work close to their hearts. The Naperville social services agency provides counseling, mentoring, transitional housing and other support for teens and young adults at risk of becoming homeless.
“I remember being a young adult, being 21, and not having found my way yet,” Frederick said. “I was lost. You feel like you’re supposed to know what you’re going to do with the rest of your life, but you don’t.”
She especially is thankful for the agency’s A.C.E.S. (Achieving Confidence, Encouraging Success) program, which helped her daughter, Claire, find her way out of a dark place when she was subjected to ruthless bullying during fourth grade.
“It taught her how to stick up for herself, and gave her permission to stick up for herself,” Frederick said.
The transformation was stunning, Brezinsky agreed. Both watched as Claire, now preparing to start her freshman year at Naperville North High School, took on new confidence and flourished in junior high.
“It gave her the coping skills she needed to stick out,” Brezinsky said.
The youth-focused organization was one of several nonprofits that benefitted from the fashion show’s original 2008 incarnation as the cornerstone of Fashion Week Naperville. The array of events included in that ambitious undertaking were pared back in subsequent years to spotlight the runway action alone. Similarly, 360 — which has been the recipient of most of the $85,000 raised over the first six years of the show — is the sole beneficiary this time.
Still, the event entails plenty of work and planning. Brezinsky and Frederick begin reaching out to prospective supporters in January, and designer selection takes place in April.
Each time they go through the process, it becomes more comfortable. The two have learned to let things go, understanding they’re likely the only ones who notice when something minor doesn’t come off exactly as planned. These days they wrap up the myriad tasks involved about a week before the show, but both admit that they don’t really exhale until they’ve sent the last model out onto the runway.
“It’s a mess,” Frederick said. “But it’s a beautiful mess.”Tags: 360 Youth Services, College of DuPage, Fashion