As promised, The Crucible’s 2013 Hot Couture show was truly a fusion of fashion and fire. Performers ranging from contortionists to aerialists to runway models flanked the stage as bursts of fire exploded out of a tower of twisted metal. And believe me, it was no false stage fire; I could feel the blast of heat from the end of the runway.
For those unfamiliar with West Oakland’s The Crucible, the sprawling warehouse is home to a nonprofit that provides training and community for local industrial artists. Once a year, it showcases local fashion designers and live welding demonstrations during its Hot Couture fashion show. The cavernous space was a perfect backdrop for the avant garde designs, which ranged from stained glass to aluminum to LED lights.
Walking on the runway for designers Courtney Pheils and Celeste Flores was truly otherworldly. I’ve been in runway shows before, but no experience was as inspiring and beautifully unnerving. The other models varied widely in age, shape, and tattoo size, proudly displaying their bodies without self-consciousness. There was a palpable energy both on the runway and backstage, and it was addictive.
I never thought I’d see the day when I’d strut in front of strangers wearing nothing but a corset, a train, and a metal cage, but I don’t regret it and will never forget it. What can I say? Amazing things happen in Oakland.