Black Hearts Ball: Fashion as Art

If the roses you grabbed at the gas station on your way home from work failed to dazzle on Valentine’s Day, do yourself a favor: start bugging designers Tim and Thom Navarro to put on the Black Hearts Ball again next year, and then get your tickets early. The sold-out inaugural event at the Minneapolis Club was a dazzling place to be on the night of (Hallmark-mandated) romance: there was opera, there was theatre, there was clever, happy chatter humming through the standing-room-only crowd of Minneapolitans who said to hell with the cold (and hunkering down) and showed up in a glorious mix of neo-Gatsby era sequins and fur, tattoos and tails, Balmorals and bow-ties. In the pre-show cocktail hour, huddles of handsome men in waistcoats and dreadlock up-dos whispered while women in sumptuous gowns sipped Martinis and ran careless hands through ombre-dyed hair in shades of orange and blue.

And then the lights went down.

Designer Carly Schoen had told me the show, featuring seven local designers expressing their style vision through individual theatrical productions, was intended to “bring the community together to see fashion as art.” She sent models down the runway with a spray of stunning crystals surrounding their eyes, looking like punk princesses who had waited until the King and Queen were asleep, then ditched their gowns, threw on, oh, a studded tapestry jacket and platform sneakers (with a furry pastel tongue) and snuck out the palace window for a night of naughty adventure. Her theme: “Rebellion, owning your deviances and prizing them.”

Carly Schoen


In a worked entitled A Living Breathing Canvas, Rachel Roff of DeLange Designs put baby-doll dresses on a handful of young dancers from the Legacy Dance Studio to express “empowerment through expression and vulnerability.”

DeLange Designs

Photo by Gregg Jiracek

Sarah Holm showed diaphanous gowns with molded leather beetle-like accents to show “fragility within a tough shell.”

Sarah Holm


Thom Navarro had a girl gang in flowing gowns with goth accents looking tough while carefully fixing each other’s hair. His theme: Stand Together. Stand Strong.

Tim Navarro


His brother Tim bended genders in his Walk on the Wild Side, showing androgynous models looking sexy in menswear classics (like an opulent smoking jacket) made feminine with lush fabrics and intricate embroidery.

Tim Navarro

Danielle Everine created a Grimm Brothers cabin-chic fantasy to tell a dark tale inspired by the 12th century rescue of the child heir to the Norwegian throne.

Danielle Everine


And Laura Fulk drew a collective gasp with a show called Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt, featuring models dressed in sculptural Issey Miyake-like coats (made of folded cardboard) over white sheaths that, from behind, appeared to have a single jeweled wound from which flowed not blood a trail of rippling ribbon.

Laura Fulk


Bottom line: Edgy was in at the Black Hearts Ball. “We are all inspired by strong, independent people,” Thom said. His brother agreed. “The more daring you are with clothes,” said Tim, “the more confident you are in life.” After the show, the designers and models mingled with the crowd, which wasted no time getting back to sipping Martinis and feeling marvelous. Carly Schoen summed up the goal of the evening: “We just want people to see the beautiful things local designers make—and want to wear them.”

Mission accomplished; I’ll start with the punk princess jacket and the bleeding sheath.