Fashion inferno at the Crucible 

The catwalk is about to get hot — real hot — and we’re not just talking about the smokin’ models or the latest in designer creations. Fashion literally goes up in flames this weekend as the Crucible celebrates its ninth anniversary with the fiery fiesta "Hot Couture."

Following last year’s dazzling performance of "Romeo and Juliet — A Fire Ballet," Oakland’s nonprofit industrial-art hot spot keeps its birthday revelry sizzling with another round of incendiary innovation.

This time, the theatrics move from the dance stage to the runway for a showcase of wearable art set against the backdrop of some serious combustion.

So, why exactly fuse fashion with fire? It does, after all, sound a bit risky.

"It’s a great way to test and see if [the clothing] is flammable," jokes Michael Sturtz, executive director and founder of the Crucible.

Actually, setting fashion ablaze seemed like the next logical move for the Crucible, considering the organization had already tackled opera, ballet and even a reinterpretation of Homer’s "Odyssey."

With the success of "Industrial Chic," a smaller-scale fashion productionalready under their collective belts, Sturtz and company were inspired to up the ante and, of course, the pyrotechnics, for their next fund-raising gala.

"There’s something very interesting about seeing clothing lit by fire," says Sturtz. "The fire adds almost this secondary texture to it."

"Hot Couture" features the work of more than 20 Bay Area designers, including Leila Bazzani, Alexandria Von Bromssen, Miranda Caroligne, Missing Piece, Miss Velvet Cream and Super Sugar Ray Ray.

In addition to the wearable-art showcase, aerialists, fire spinners and artisans of the blacksmithing, glass blowing and welding variety will also be on-hand for the three-day performance.

Saturday serves up something a little extra: the VIP night features a silent auction, catered food, cellist Zoe Keating of Rasputina fame, contortionist Serchmaa Byamba and fire performer Kristina Canizares.

While many of the designers and models have never worked with fire before, Sturtz says that they are encouraged to get as up close and personal with as many of the fire elements with which they’re comfortable.

Naturally, this means that audiences can expect all sorts of fire-infused spectacles. There’s no need to worry about safety measures since Oakland’s finest firefighters will be in attendance, and even working it out on the runway, too.

"For the models, fire really cranks up the intensity," says Sturtz. "A lot gets revealed — first there’s this fear, an overcoming of it and then this empowerment that comes through. It’s really interesting to watch unfold."

If you go

Hot Couture

When: 7 p.m. today through Saturday

Where: The Crucible, 1260 Seventh St., Oakland

Tickets: $15 to $150

Contact: (510) 444-0919; www.thecrucible.org

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Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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