by Nicole Crews

Me: Why am I so upset about Joan Rivers? I mean, she was only a celebrity.

Mother: It’s because you equate the two of us. Plus, Melissa’s an only child like you.

Me: That’s pretty astute. But don’t you think it’s bad that I’m more upset about her passing than ISIS?

Mother: You and Wonder Woman and Oh Mighty Isis! Nicole, Isis is a fictional Egyptian Goddess, she isn’t dead.

It’s swiftly approaching Cinderella Seven-thirty, when my 5 o’clock cocktails turn into ugly stepsisters and I realize my pumpkin might be festooned with blue lights should I attempt to drive it. Not to worry, I’ve got a near teetotaler in tow and he’s just as excited as I am about opening night of Greensboro Fashion Week. We sidle up to the valet in the nick of time in my white Volvo that looks a lot like a Swedish ambulance amidst the line-up of Ferraris and Porsches (placed there by Platinum Sponsor Jeff Francisco of Foreign Cars Italia and Porsche of Greensboro) and joke with the valets about an unfortunate vehicular switcheroo.

Valet: Are you kidding. We aren’t allowed to go anywhere near those cars.

Me: That’s okay. The last time I drove a stick it was in a Yugoslavian drivers-ed car and I nearly killed a small Greek family.

Valet: I’m glad the big guy is driving you tonight.

We break the speed limit past the red carpet and up the marble stairs just in time to grab a glass of bubbly and take our seats along the lengthy runway of the Elm Street Center’s ornately carpeted ballroom. The lights dim and a slim, male model emerges in a blue sharkskin suit and walks the plank, gives a convincing “blue steel” and 180s back to the mike.

My Driver: Is that Brian Clarey?

Me: Yep. He’s the emcee!

Dapper Dude seated in front of us leans back after the introduction: Does he work for the car dealership?

Me: No. He’s an editor. He just sounds like he sells cars.

Five hand-picked local designers are featured tonight and they don’t disappoint. Danielle Wiggans/Dani Oliva designs are a veritable Rolling Stones album of Black and Blue whose severe aesthetic is accentuated by goose-stepping models and strategic cut-outs resembling recent altercations with a saber.

Me: That skirt was short. And this is coming from me.

Dapper Dude: You could see Virginia from the House of Wiggins.

Justin Clark — who obviously aspires to travel — was up next. A dramatic cultural menagerie began with what it might look like if Alexander McQueen got stuck in a taffy shop and ran into Betty Rubble. Much fun zebra print ensued and closed with a menswear look of jungle britches and a black mesh top.

Dapper Dude: Do you think they used that shirt to corral the models?

Me: Or maybe to capture the zebra for the skins?

Classic silhouettes and clean lines defined the looks of Uvana Duran and the models sold it. Myline Kamsch — owner of Myline’s Bridal in Greensboro —  took her formal looks to a new level and Nhi Tran, winner of the 2014 Goodwill Rock the Runway fashion show, was a showstopper.

Me: So what’d you think overall?

Dapper Dude: I just moved here from San Francisco and I was pretty impressed. I liked the up-dos. Very Bladerunner.

Me: Well a lot of those models could pass for replicants but overall, so was I. These are emerging designers and a lot of what we saw tonight was much better than “Project Runway.” And c’mon, if Joan Rivers were still alive we’d be home watching “Fashion Police.”

Dapper Dude: Here’s to Joan!

Me: To Joan! Hey do you think her job is available?

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