FIDM Debut Dazzles the Desert

To say Fashion Week El Paseo is just another fashion week would be the same misguided representation as saying our beloved Oscar de la Renta was just another fashion designer. Sure, you can say it, but by doing so, you're willingly placing yourself in the uninformed category. And who wants to be there?...

Fashion Week El Paseo's 10th anniversary celebration came to an end on March 29th, and days later, the buzz continues to saturate the warm desert air. With its white tents perched outside the glamorous shopping paradise called El Paseo, this fashion week has all the trappings to intoxicate the fashion loving desert communities-plus. Champagne poured freely, automobiles for the jet-set on display, ├╝ber chic patrons in attendance, and of course, it would be ridiculous if I failed to mention the wide array of designers who dazzled us with their collections. Designers such as famed Kevin Hall (FIDM graduate), Lloyd Klein and Trina Turk (to name a few) set the tone, along with the Project Runway All Stars which included Michael Costello, who opened his first boutique in Palm Springs, California. And if these designers weren't enough to cure your fashion fix, on Thursday evening, March 26th, the catwalk came alive again with FIDM Debut 2015. Being an alumnus of the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, the presentation was quintessential FIDM - done to the highest level of savoir-faire.

Though the main presentation for Debut took place on March 21st at the Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, Fashion Week El Paseo's attendees were able to view a more scaled down version of the original, and still, the presentation was just as fascinating.  Eleven fashion designers were seen on the runway. The fashion designers-to-be, worked over 9 months to create the looks that were featured on the runway. Participants are chosen based on overall grade point average, references, portfolio review, talent, skill level and formal interviews with Department Chairs from FIDM…selection is made from hundreds of candidates.The designers scheduled to appear include: Martha Calderon, Leonides Garcia, Daniel Hansen, Anthony Herrera, Jette Kavanagh, Marly Kluge, Luar, Dustin Mangan, Leetal Platt, Vanessa Puccini, and Samantha Sneed.

I was impressed with all of the talented designers, however, since So What to Twenty is geared toward the female reader, for the sake of space, I have selected to feature the female designers. Enjoy FIDM Debut 2015!

Marly Kluge - Designer
Born and raised in Burbank, California, Marly Kluge was inspired by the idea of a tropical paradise escape when designing her FIDM Advanced Fashion Design, Debut collection. Comprised of Resort Wear with a retro, feminine feel, her collection consists of bright colors and vibrant, tropical prints, realized in fashions for all vacation activities, including swimwear. Marly has her own fashion blog and some of her fashion designer icons include Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Jacobs and Victoria Beckham. 

Samantha Sneed - Designer

Samantha Sneed was born and raised in Rockwall, Texas. Her FIDM Advanced Fashion Design, Debut collection has an air of classic Americana meets modern equestrian clothing, with a fun campy twist. Her Fall collection uses a juxtaposition of structured and draped silhouettes, in mostly reds, blues and tans. She admires designer icons such as Elie Saab, Zuhair Murad and Ralph Lauren. After graduation, Samantha plans to acquire a paid internship at a well-known fashion company to gain experience in the industry.


Martha Calderon - Designer
Martha Calderon is originally from Bogota, Colombia and also lived in Miami, Florida, before moving to Los Angeles, California to attend the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. Her FIDM Advanced Fashion Design, Debut knitwear collection is inspired by the designs of architect, Frank Gehry. Martha’s futuristic winter dress coats are feminine and sculptural, utilizing distorted shapes and the contrast of geometric and organic lines. After graduation, she hopes to work for a knitwear design company or as a graphic textile artist, and after gaining experience, become an independent knitwear designer.


Vanessa Puccini - Designer

Vanessa Puccini was born in Barranquilla, Colombia and raised in Augusta, Georgia, prior to attending FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. Her FIDM Advanced Fashion Design, Debut collection of glamorous evening gowns is inspired by her vision of “heaven on earth” and the natural beauty of the woman’s figure. Vanessa, who interned with Carolina Herrera in New York City, also includes Giambattista Valli and Oscar de la Renta as some of her fashion designer icons.


Leetal Platt - Designer

Born in Tel Aviv, Israel, Leetal Platt grew up in Newton, Massachusetts. Titled “Suspend/Support”, her FIDM Advanced Fashion Design, Debut collection is inspired by “suspension bridges, peeking through a foggy night.” Leetal’s collection consists of evening gowns and separates, incorporating metal chain, spiral steel edging and 3D-printed elements, strung together to create the appearance of “suspended” garments. Before enrolling at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Leetal studied fashion in Paris and has a background in the film industry.

For further information on Fashion Week El Paseo and FIDM Debut 2015, please take the time to click the provided links.Who says California doesn't know fashion? They lied {wink}

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Photographs by Freddy and are the property of So What to Twenty!


  1. Love fashion shows...thanks for taking us to this one!

  2. What fun Glenda! Oh for a place to wear that champagne-colored gown (Vanessa Puccini?)! I enjoyed the 'virtual show'! Karen

    1. I tried to have my "reporter-face" on but it was difficult. I fell in love with so many of the designs :)

  3. Thank you for these amazing pictures. Wish I could have gone!

  4. Looks like a great fashion show Glenda. I have to say my favorite two designers are the first two. I especially like Samantha Sneed's designs. Wouldn't it be fun to do a blogger style show?


    1. Cherie, you would have loved it! Yes, Sneed's designs reminded me of Ralph Lauren - very equestrian inspired. And yes, a blogger style show would be really good fun :)

  5. Very, very impressive. There are quite a few numbers I would love to own!! What a beauty.
    Must have been a blast.

    1. Oh gosh, Greetje, it was! I thoroughly enjoyed the fashion week and the FIDM presentation was outstanding...of course :)

  6. There are some fabulous looks here. Quite a bit of eye candy and one of my favorites is that first look. Bold and eye catching


    1. Oh yes...when that look came out everyone started cheering.

    2. I'm so glad you guys liked it! Thank you so much!

  7. Thanks for the great pictures & background information. It is nice see other fashion points of views from other fashion cities.

  8. Hi Glenda!

    Thank you so much for your post! Having my designs shown at El Paseo Fashion Week was amazing, but it's even more awesome to see posts like yours featuring my designs. Your pictures are GREAT, would you mind if I used them for my own online portfolio/blog? I will definitely give you credit.

    Thanks again!

    1. Hi Marly! Yes, you can use them but please give credit to So What to Twenty! Please provide me with the link once you have used them. Thank you!


Thank you for taking the time to comment, it really means a great deal for me to connect with my So What to Twenty friends. I hope you subscribed via email or by social media - I wouldn't want you to miss anything on our True Style journey. Stay True, Glenda