Crystal City will sparkle a bit more this week.
Now in its fifth year, Crystal Couture kicked off Tuesday night. More than 40 Washington-area designers and boutiques will be there on any given night through Saturday. Organizers expect about 4,000 people to visit the 12th floor of 251 18th St. for the high-end fashion show and sale.
Put on by the Crystal City Business Improvement District, or BID, this year's event showcases 26,000-square-feet of vacant office space that's been transformed with a 400-foot runway that wraps around the room, a bar, a photo booth, various booths for the boutiques and free makeup and hair makeovers in the center of the room.
"It's phenomenal," said Angela Fox, the BID's chief executive. "The runway turned out better than I expected. You can shop all the way around the room — and still enjoy the show."
The show features 30 models, who barely get a break. Runway shows start about every 15 minutes from 6 to 10 p.m. nightly.
"By Saturday night, there's usually people hanging from the rafters," Fox said. "People find out about it, they plan their night. Even if you come every night, you'll experience something different."
National Harbor, Md.-based fashion producer Maggy Francois, who is in charge of the runway, said she was trying not to showcase trends, but to instead focus on more classic designs that outlast the latest fads and are good investments.
"It's a great way to introduce the Washington area to what's important in fashion, beauty and styling," Francois told Patch. "We're in a recession, but people are still shopping."
Washington-based Studio D'Maxsi CEO Afua Sam said in the first few hours Tuesday night she met people who had liked her designs on Facebook, customers from years past and one woman who wore one of her dresses to a White House function.
Sam, a native of Ghana, said she likes Crystal Couture because it allows people to shop and watch runway shows simultaneously.
"With this, you can interact with the community," she said.