When Orlando Ortiz is in the building you know it. There is no mistaking him for anyone else. He is the one and only and his personality and energy embody everything he does….because everything he does, he does it big. And he does it right. This past Saturday I had the opportunity to go to a fashion show, properly entitled “The Project King Experience Collection Show.” When I first saw Mr. Ortiz I thought… didn’t I see him before, IN a fashion show last month, as a model? I was sure that I helped him get into a three piece suit behind the curtains of the runway in a record 15 seconds prior to him doing his thing down the runway. When I had the opportunity to speak to him after the fashion show I asked him if he was in the Fashionably Loud Fashion Show at the Howard Theater last month. He looked at me with a smile and said, “Yes, that was me.” Of course now I’m confused…so I said, “So you’re a model and a designer? Wasn’t this fashion show held to showcase your designs?” He replied, stating “Yes, I model, design, and more.” And more…let’s just say that’s an underrated word for Mr. Ortiz. Orlando was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY :). I smile because anyone who is a native New Yorker already has my attention. And a New Yorker in fashion? Now you have my undivided attention. When I ask people about how they got into fashion, I never know what their response will be. Sometimes it’s very familiar, like my mother loved clothes and her love for fashion naturally transferred to me. We’ve all heard that story before. I asked Orlando the same typical question. But, with an answer that personifies his personality, it was not a typical answer. There was no love of fashion found from his mom’s closet that magically put him on a road to a fashionably happy ever ending. Orlando instead told me that one day when he was in the sixth grade, he was looking over one of his classmates shoulders as she sketched several dresses. He, being a smart alec, butts into her drawing aura and says, “I can draw like that too.” He then tells me how good her sketches were, and that he had never sketched anything before in his life, (hahaha). He took her drawings, placed a blank piece of paper over them, and traced them. He handed them back to her and said “See, I told you I could draw that too.” I’m sure anyone around those two twelve year old’s laughed and shook their head. “O’s crazy!” But Orlando thought to himself, I really CAN draw that. From then on, he began sketching. He began sketching men’s clothes,and when his little sister was two years old, he started sketching women’s wear with her in mind, imagining what she would wear when she grew up. To this day, Orlando’s little sister is the face of his brand. As time went on, Orlando kept sketching. His family moved to Maryland when he was in High School and he continued to sketch. Soon, family and friends began asking him to sketch outfits, prom dresses, bridesmaids dresses, and even wedding dresses for them. In no time, Orlando was designing for himself. And here we are. The last Saturday of August 2013 at a fashion show at Twelve Restaurant and Lounge in Washington, DC. Featuring three of Orlando’s collections. He’s not ON the runway, he IS the runway. Stamp. When I walked in to Twelve, there were models posing like mannequins in beautiful dresses and unique hair and makeup. The look was captured and they were displaying it, and displaying it well. I could feel the energy and vibe of the line before it walked down the runway. It was colorful. It was subtle. It was bold. It was feminine. It was unique. I wanted to see more. And more is what I got!
The first collection showcased by King O was entitled “KING BAD.” This collection features leather which screams rock and roll along with the color gun-metal to embody “bad.” These two elements are bullied by a hint of turquoise to represent the feminine and softer side that lies within each bad chick. This juxtapose gave us King Bad. There are no other words. This collection is King. And it’s bad.
The next collection is entitled “SWIM FAN.” Now for all of the older gentlemen who are not used to seeing sexily-clad females, I’d advise you to stop reading now because I don’t want to be held responsible for the heart attacks that could possibly happen from the images you are about to witness. And yes, we are still talking about fashion here so please stay focused. You can’t view Swim Fan without smiling. Not because of the models, of course they are beautiful, but what brings the smile to your face are the colors. And the design. Okay, the collection and the design. And the models wearing the design with the colors. Confused? That’s because there is no separation of this collection that represents the young high-spirited type of girl that displays bright colors to keep it cute while highlighting sexy with just enough covered left for the imagination. Don’t believe me just watch!!
If that was not enough for you, that’s good because there is more. Yup. King O’s finale featured gold. Gold. GOLD! Gold Rush to be exact. This collection was chosen as the finale because it represents a look that all women, no matter what age, can wear and feel extremely unique and bold. Gold represents royalty which gives the collection its richness. This collection showcases the elegant and pretty side of King O’s designs. No hidden agendas. It is what it is. Solid, feminine, bold and beautiful. That is Gold Rush. Started from the bottom now we here. Well not really the bottom. But we’re here.
Accessories, makeup, and hair played a big part in this production. Outfits were enhanced with handmade leather earrings and gloves as well as face jewelry provided by the Mdurvwa Collection. Faces were left very clean but edgy as each model received a smokey eye with a nude lip to add a softness to her face. Hair incorporated a 30-inch ponytail with a unique signature braiding technique done by the selected hairstylist. Some models received a teasing to their mane to exemplify a rough edge.
- Accessories were provided by Deborah Mdurvwa from the Mdurvwa Collection; www.mdurvwa.com, Instagram (IG)/Twitter: @Mdurvwa
- Hair was designed by Maurice Benjamin, https://www.facebook.com/hairbymauriceb; Twitter: @LEGENDNDAMAKIN IG: HAIR_SLAYER
- Makeup was provided by Gamele Armstrong
Okay, so I’m nosy right. I got the fashion show. I see the collections. But what else is it to King O? And how did the name come about? Of course I asked because I want to know. Moreover, I know you do too. We all want alter-egos. So to make a long story short, when Orlando was thinking of an alter-ego for himself, he thought about the fact that he is a jack of all trades, as well as the fact that he is good at all of his trades (modeling, designing, dancing, choreography), and he derived “King O” to symbolize himself being dominating and in charge of his world and his crafts. After seeing this show…no argument there! So…what next? King O plans to continue to push himself as an overall artist, and he does not want to be limited to fashion, acting, modeling, choreography or dance; he wants to be known for incorporating every aspect of his artistry skills into his work. He will start a new season at Oxon Hill High School in Oxon Hill, MD with the New Generation Models Team as they embark on their eighth year at the H.S. in an organization that he help found. In January of 2014, be on the lookout for another fabulous fashion event featuring King O styles. After seeing what I saw this past Saturday…I can’t wait!! In addition to that, King O is a designer for Lil’ Mo of the TV One Reality Show R&B Divas LA, and attended the reunion as a part of her team this past year. For King O, this is not a hobby. This is a love and a passion. This is a craft and a means to life. This is his 9-5. Much respect to King O the artist. I can’t wait for more!
Contact King O at DaArtist15@gmail.com, or on Instagram @KingODaArtist
Most Photography Credits in this post go to Myles Loftin. Follow him on IG: @goldenpolaroid
There were many artist and fashionable people in the audience. Check them out here!