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A Long-Awaited Return
Miranda Levy's Return to the Runway show offered more than a few surprises.

Image by Frank Juarez.

Miranda Levy's Return to the Runway show was supposed to promote local fashion designers with some help from a few national names. The event was also intended to showcase Levy's first collection since returning from "Project Runway," where she was ousted midway through the show's 12th season. As I wrote in our February issue, this collection was inspired by La belle et la bete, and specifically, the roses therein.

Friday's show accomplished all of these things, and much more.

A crowd of nearly 600* filled a second-floor ballroom of the InterContinental Milwaukee to watch the show that kicked off with four local designers. Tama Roberts launched the show with loose, abstract garments that exemplified effortless, comfortable shapes. Many of the models were represented by Ohlsson Model Management, a recently opened local agency founded by Brandis Ohlsson.

Following Roberts, Sara Terrell's models stormed out wearing literal interpretations of school-girl ensembles, and Gretchen Bartz worked a little magic with color-block jersey. But most surprising of the bunch was Linda Marcus, who debuted her first clothing collection. Usually a handbag designer specializing in luxe fabrics, Marcus decided to try her hand at apparel and it was an impressive attempt. The crowd audibly gasped when Marcus's first model appeared on the runway wearing an intricate, voluminous black cocktail dress. And the din around her collection seemed to only grow louder. Designer Amanda Martinez rounded out the local portion of the show.

After a lengthy intermission, the show resumed with the "Project Runway" designers that included Peach Carr, Angela Bacskocky and Kahindo Mateene. Mateene's designs were especially lovely, and included structured separates in playful colors and patterns that made for a sweet break amidst the sea of slush-covered boots inside and the frigid temps outdoors.

And finally, it was Miranda's turn. She debuted about 15 looks that ranged from day to night, including a black evening gown with lace embellishments, a black quilted two-piece suit that's the stuff of Power Lady dreams, and one fantastic tartan plaid jumpsuit. By time Levy's finale look appeared on the runway - a red fitted dress with plush rose-covered sleeves - the showgoers could barely contain themselves. It was dramatic, well-tailored and and the perfect ending to her statement-making show.

The biggest surprise of the night, however, came shortly after the show. Levy took the runway to thank the gung-ho crowd, the other designers, the hotel. While doing so, her boyfriend, Michael Adler, quietly ascended the stage behind her, and when she turned to thank him, he dropped to one knee. You can guess what happened next (including a joyful "yes!"), and the crowd was able to release its collective excitement in peals of "aww," fist pumps and screams.

*This post has been updated to reflect a more accurate count of the huge crowd. We regret the miscount.

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