"We still hear, 'I didn't know D.C. had a fashion week'," founder Ean Williams told us.
But that's about to change -- D.C. Fashion Week is back for its 16th season with new additions that are raising the bar for local designers.
Held biannually on the heels of New York Fashion Week, the District's affair is significantly different from its sister show, and not just because people here sometimes wear pleated pants.
To begin, the event is not for profit, something Williams believes is an important part of keeping the focus on young designers and raw talent. Registration is open to anyone who wishes to apply online as a designer, model or volunteer.
This year's fashion week will feature a new event, the Metropolitan Emerging Designers and Indie Artists (M.E.D.I.A.) showcase, at the Washington Post Conference Center (1150 15th St NW). The showcase was created to bring together top designers from local universities with popular local musicians.
The idea came about during a networking party (held this year on Feb. 23 at Dirty Bar on Connecticut Ave.) of a previous D.C. Fashion Week. Williams and other organizers wanted to find a way to boost recognition of local designers by getting their clothes featured in music videos and on the album covers of popular recording artists.
This year's fashion week will include performances by seven different artists and groups, notably DeAngelo Redman, who was a finalist in the first season of MTV's "Making the Band 4."
Other more high-profile performers were considered for the showcase, but Williams said he believes it should really be about the independent recording artists, as they're the ones who need the time in the spotlight.
The same goes for the designers who are coming from the Art Institute of Washington, the University of the District of Columbia, and from a fashion program in which many Fairfax Country high school students participate.
D.C. Fashion Week kicked off on Monday, Feb, 20 with a free, eco-friendly fashion show, with apparel from well-known designer Elizabeth St. John Couture.
The final event is an international couture show on Sunday, Feb. 26, featuring clothing from Morocco, Thailand, Nigeria, Norway, and more. VIP seating for this event includes deluxe gift bags.