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Brave New World Fashion Show

Eric Belladonna’s Brave New World Fashion show added couture gloss to a post-apocalytpic world for SubZERO Festival in San Jose

THE MUSIC starts with blaring air raid sirens that slowly descend into a thumping beat. The first gas-masked model appears on the street as a mashup of opera and tribal chants intermingle with distorted bird noises. Covered face to foot in dramatic black, her hair a frizzy fried cloud, the model attracts a crowd of onlookers as she marches in slow motion down South First Street. She’s followed by an equally dystopian bunch of “beautiful zombies,” all adorned with twigs, antlers and futuristic militant details.

So began the post-apocalyptically themed Brave New World Fashion Show last Friday at the SubZERO arts festival. The show was the latest brainchild of 23-year-old San Jose party promoter Eric Belladonna and a team of local stylists. With the help of Crossroads Trading Company San Carlos manager Jennifer Thomas, makeup artist Ann Ho, DJ Basura and the master hair artists at 5 Color Cowboy salon, the Brave New World Fashion Show brought some avant-garde style to the streets of downtown San Jose on June 4.
Belladonna says he and his team wanted to put on a fashion show that really caught people’s attention, having attended so many uninspiring, bland style events around San Jose himself.

“I got tired of going out, and now we were ready to do something really great and creative,” says Belladonna, who has gained a major reputation in the South Bay for his two monthly electro dance parties, The Workout and Wasteland. “Other fashion shows had left me wanting more, so I wanted to make sure if people leave, they don’t forget it.”

Each of the 15 models featured in the show was dramatically styled to follow a storyline representing the years following a nuclear holocaust, Belladonna says. The show began with a model who had her entire epidermis covered and wore heavy scorched-looking makeup, frizzy hair on end and a protective mask.

“They just looked so intimidating,” says Belladonna of his model’s garb. “Like, sexy but so scary at the same time.”

As the show progressed, the outfits started to feature a palette of metallic and grays, using natural elements like horns and sticks. Belladonna explains that this look was designed because “everyone is primitive and wants to eat each other and hurt each other to survive.”

“They are meant to be beautiful, but they are beautiful for what is left after the world has suffered. Like, even if they have one tooth, that’s considered beautiful, after the world has gone through so much chaos,” he says.

The final models of the Brave New World Fashion Show were clothed in more natural, flowing garb detailed with dead flowers and leaves. This motif was meant to represent mankind slowly rebuilding and rekindling their connection to nature. “It’s not like the world is perfect, but there is that hope,” Belladonna says of his fashion show’s conclusion.

After the show, several models remained in character and were escorted over to the “Dr. Sketchy” tent, a DIY alternative figure-drawing project. There, the models posed whimsically in their Mad Max–esque outfits while onlookers (including San Jose District 9 Councilman Sam Liccardo) put charcoal to paper for an impromptu art exercise.