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Greater Tulsa Reporter


Local Designer Ariel Lev Dazzles Runway Tulsa

By CHET GREGORY
Contributing Writer

DESIGNER AND MODELS: Ariel Lev, fourth from left, with his models wearing his designer collection at the Cox Business Center during Runway Tulsa, held in September.


Saisie Photography


Editor’s Note:  Runway Tulsa is an annual event featuring a week of fashion in multiple locations across Tulsa. Although the major event takes place in a single week during the fall season, Runway Tulsa is involved in fashion events year-round.

Ariel Lev was successfully and happily going through his life in an industry unconnected with fashion. But in 2016, while in a random and unrelated conversation, he learned that Tulsa had a newly structured and growing fashion movement. This struck a note and served as the genesis for what would soon be a year of creation and hard work. It culminated with a victorious presentation of his own fashion collection at Runway Tulsa held at the Cox Business Center on Sept. 29, 2017.

Lev has always been fascinated by how much one’s clothing affects how they feel, and, for good or bad, how they’re perceived and treated by others. He is a big fan of DIY fashion and the ideas of fashion as self-expression.

Starting in his mid teens, Lev started working with old patterns and used scrap fabric for practice. Once he became more proficient, he started taking on commission work to make money using his self-taught skills.

It was around this same time that cosplay (a contraction of the words costume and play, a hobby in which participants called cosplayers wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character) was becoming popular in the U.S. and this allowed him to push his skills replicating the elaborate costumes of Japanese rock bands. Taking it to the next level had not been a viable possibility until Runway Tulsa came along.

After learning about the existence of Runway Tulsa, Lev attended all of the events of the 2016 September presentations. He then made it known to the organizers of his interest to present a collection in the 2017 runway show. He was quickly accepted to be part of the Emerging Talent show. This show was presented the night before the Finale runway show where national designers and even a Project Runway winner were featured.

Once Lev committed, the real work began and didn’t end until the night of the big showing. His demanding day job meant he was “burning the midnight oil” and committing most of his weekends to produce a collection over a four-month period.
His creative designs demanded unique materials. It meant searching for specialty items that adorned his creations. He would find those through exhaustive hunts of flea markets and online searches. The results were worth it.

Runway Tulsa show producers chose Lev for the final walk of the Friday night show. The big event was coming fast. Still to happen would be the selection of his models and then the fittings. Matching accessories to each look and having it all ready and delivered backstage only added to the never-ending details such a showing requires.

The moment arrived. His first model was on the runway and his other looks would follow. Backstage he could hear the first responses from the audience and they were enthusiastic and very encouraging. What the audience was seeing was a highly professional creation that was mysterious and sultry. Some repurposed vintage materials fashioned into an elegant Steampunk style (subgenre of science fantasy that engages technology and designs inspired by industrial steam-powered machinery of the 1800s) with obvious attention to detail. Lev’s engineering background came forth in a fashionable manner without it being overly mechanical.

The last model walked and presented the perfect finale look that was even more dramatic than all that came before. It was time for the group walk of all the entire collection. Traditionally this includes the recognition of the designer who makes the appearance at the end of the group. Whether Lev was able to take in the great crowd response during this moment is not known by this writer, but it was clear his collection was well-received.

This is normally where the show ends for the designers. The big moment they worked so hard for all year is over. But Runway Tulsa’s emcee Chera Kimiko did something unusual for a fashion show. She called Lev back out to congratulate him on his presentation and asked him a few questions. The audience loved this and the chance to learn just a little more about the creator of what they just witnessed.

Backstage was a flurry – it always is, but the success of what just happened was felt by all involved. Just to add one more element to a perfect night, Runway Tulsa Director of Designs, Hope Tomorrow (from L.A.) approached Lev after a quick huddle with the show promoters and asked if he would return in 2018 and present in the Finale Show alongside prominent national designers. Spoiler alert, he accepted.

Two days later it was back to the day job where his accomplishments don’t receive cheers and applause. But Lev is a fortunate person in that he has found the way to make both work in his life.

Like Ariel Lev at his Facebook www.facebook.com/ariellevbespoke/ to keep up on his future fashion happenings. He does commission work and can be contacted through that site.

For more news on Runway Tulsa 2018 follow www.facebook.com/runwaytulsa.  

Updated 01-26-2018

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