Fashion Show “Afterglow” Tries to Capture the Essence of a Friend

FWMN to You: Designer Laura Fulk and nine other artists team up to remember art therapist Laura Weber
From left to right: One "Afterglow" look by Laura Fulk, an artist working on the large canvases for the hanging garments of the show
From left to right: One “Afterglow” look by Laura Fulk; an artist working on the large canvases for the hanging garments of the show

Chris McDuffie (left), courtesy Laura Fulk (right)

When Laura Fulk met Laura Weber, it was in the early 2000s, and they were both students at the Minneapolis College for Art and Design. “She was a painter, tall and beautiful,” Fulk laughs. “I used to make her model for me back in the day.” Fast forward a decade later, and Fulk was diving headfirst into her career in apparel, and Weber had become an art therapist while painting on the side. Despite their busy schedules, the two still made sure to make time for each other.

After Weber passed away in fall 2019, Fulk couldn’t shake the voice in her head that said she should make a collection to honor Weber in the spring/summer Fashion Week MN. Ten years ago in April, Fulk had shown “To the Ends of the Universe” at the now defunct MNFashion Week. For that collection, Weber and artist Melissa Breitenfeldt had created custom fabrics inspired by the galaxy, and Fulk wanted to share the journey again with Weber. Perhaps not in the same way, but in a special way nonetheless.

The result, “Afterglow,” is not a recreation of “To the Ends of the Universe,” and it’s not just looks inspired by Weber’s style. Fulk is after something more difficult to capture: her essence.

“I wanted it to be more about her, like her inner world, her vibe,” Fulk says. “She had the coolest vibe, just ‘She could just walk into the room, and everyone would notice her,’ kind of vibe. She was such a good person. She was probably one of my biggest fans. She cheered me on for many years, and supported me—she did that for so many artists. That’s very abstract, though. How do you define a vibe?” 

Besides using Weber’s works from “To the Ends of the Universe,” Fulk is using some of Weber’s newer paintings and teaming up with nine artists who were also Weber’s friends. So far, the pieces have created what Weber calls “a giant rainbow” palette as each artist is paying tribute to Weber in their own style and voice. Fulk’s designs will also be an amalgamation of styles, with structural pieces drawn from her tailoring roots and flowing looks based on the print silks. Throughout both art and fashion is a throughline of nature since Weber loved the outdoors.

Snapshots of a collection in progress: fabric prints designed by artists and hours spent collaborating on giant, three-dimensional canvases
Snapshots of a collection in progress: fabric prints designed by artists and hours spent collaborating on giant, three-dimensional canvases

Courtesy Laura Fulk

In addition to the 18 runway looks, Fulk and the artists are also collaborating on five to six over-sized, heavy garments to hang around the venue space in a gallery-esque experience. These pieces will have a different look but the same inspiration: Artists will hand paint the canvas-like fabric, and then Fulk will collage fabric on top of that.

“We had several working sessions where we’ve painted them as a group. These pieces share the overall color palette and were inspired by abstract nature themes, whereas the runway pieces are quality printed fabric and each feature one to two different artist’s work,” Fulk says. “The whole show is a play on bringing 2D art into the wearable, 3D/4D realm.”

Originally the show was going to raise money to fund an art therapy scholarship in honor of Weber, and that still is the goal. Although the pandemic has postponed the show, Fulk is working with her venue, the Lab Theater, to find a date in the summer that will work. In the meantime, she is joining the army of mask makers and contemplating more looks for “Afterglow.”

Supporting Creatives like Laura Fulk

Fulk feels very fortunate for her day job as a technical designer, but she knows plenty of friends in the creative community who are hurting. Like other supporters, she says that now is the time to support local artists by buying their goods or simply reaching out and asking how you can help. To support Fulk in particular, you might have to wait until her show officially reschedules. Buying a ticket and then buying one of the silk scarves that she will have for sale there not only supports her, but it also supports the Weber art therapy scholarship.

FWMN to You is a series of blogs covering a few of the designers of Fashion Week MN’s cancelled spring lineup. Make sure to check back with Minnesota Monthly’s blog to get the scoop on Sun50, which was planning a show with Wild Isles; Ramadhan Designs’ Eid collection (and improved face masks); and Rebekah Anne’s floral- and Elton John-inspired collection, her first full line since leaving Idle Child.