A world of high fashion and elegance tromped through the mundane-turned-majestic halls and chambers of the Adam W. Herbert University Center at UNF this past Saturday night. Christian fashion designer and Master Tailor Daniel Motorca held his 5th Annual Couture Fashion Show. Throughout the course of the evening, guests were charmed at every moment, with no lack of attention to their delight.

A black convertible Rolls Royce with silver trim sat at the entrance of the building, beckoning passersby to pull out their iPhone and go all selfie with it. Behind that one sat another classic specimen from the English automaker. Guests walked the red carpet, with professional photographers standing ready at the DM Red Carpet Step and Repeat to capture the pizzazz (a “step and repeat,” in case you aren’t familiar with the term, is a backdrop with logos and sponsor emblems, like you see at movie premiers).

One area of the event was set up to showcase Daniel’s latest apparel, accessories and other articles of clothing. Women’s clutches and handbags of varying colors…some made from imported crocodile skin and others ostrich leather, fine leather shoes, a stand of Roger Ximenez Bespoke belts, a $10,000 weekender, and a collection of high-end ties all provided the decorum to the tables.

In the center of all the action sat an ice bar, brought in from the Miami area. As I watched the water droplets fall from the top ledge, I wondered how much of it would be left at the end of the evening – I was told that its endurance would far outlast my realm of curiosity. It proved to be a popular hangout for many guests. Near the ice bar, a variety of jazz numbers hopped, popped and bee-bopped forth from the Trio Jazz Band, their music holding the rhythm to the energetic beat of the night.

A new feature to the event this year was the addition of two glass top tables, each supported by decked-out aquariums. They were built on-site two days before the event in order to prepare the set-up and water for the fish. Colorful bouquets of flowers adorned the tops of each. They were in the VIP lounge, where VIP guests enjoyed a pre-show dinner. After the fashion show this room was opened up to all the guests, where hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and desserts were available, as well as a dance floor.

When the doors opened to the main hall, where the runway was located, music from the likes of Seal, Bruno Mars, and John Legend filled the air. The show was precluded with a comedic routine by Actor-Celebrity-Comedian Brooks McBeth.

The opening of the show was a true testament to Daniel’s creativity. An Amazonian dance group, clad in savage-like body paint that glowed in the dark, prowled around with animalistic instincts as fog billowed out onto the runway stage. The vivid colors and intense theatrics surprised the audience and brought the entertainment level to the top tier, right out of the gates. This was a well-thought-out presentation to say the least – Daniel spent several months trying out and perfecting the paint colors with the artists, to ensure that the hues matched those of his designer collection.

Out of this tribal ceremony emerged a pair of dancers who graced the stage with power and delicateness. They were dressed with a more refined savagery, wowing the audience and taking them captive with every move.

Exiting the backstage chambers, model after model made their way onto the runway, gliding through the gang of Amazonians on each pass. The team seemed either to be standing guard or to be on the hunt for the models; in whichever case, their vigilance was obvious. They peered with great interest at the models, who displayed Daniel’s 2017-2018 Formal Collection, with the men showing off his Bespoke line and the women exhibiting his latest couture designs, made from Italian luxury fabrics provided by Loro Piana, Dormeui, and high-end designer fabrics. To see so many fascinating concoctions of dress was riveting, and again I was amazed at the artistry of Daniel’s craft.

During an interlude, the two dancers delighted the audience once again with breathtaking maneuvers. Their attire had switched from brute to beaut. The male partner, now dressed in a black body suit, spun his female collaborator like a baton in his hand, her iridescent bodysuit glittering with lights. Complete with splits, twirls, and much finesse…they were an amazing act to watch.

Examining the different styles of runway walk that each model used – an art form in and of itself – kept things interesting as well. Shifting body weight, relaxed, straight faces, confidence to spare…the notes I took proved invaluable after the show when my friend and I took our own shot at the runway! The show ended in a grande finale of models, as they filed out one after another at close distance, sparks of fashion shooting left to right, right to left, with the exuberance of wide-eyed Amazons perfecting the energy.

Guests got the opportunity to meet and greet with Daniel before enjoying the after-party. When asked how this year’s event compared to past shows, he commented, “This was my best one. The volume, the quality of the garments, you know we upgraded the fabrics this year for our audience.” And as to what was new this year, he said, “The addition of fish tanks…a 15-foot ice bar to take care of our clients tonight, and we upgraded the performers – we were able to use some good talent from different cities.”

Prize giveaways and drawings followed, as well as a special rate on the sale of Daniel’s merchandise. Proceed portions and direct donations were to benefit a local charity initiative to pioneer Jacksonville’s first playground dedicated to children with special needs, per the Ocean County Purveyor’s Charity.

The 5th Annual Couture Fashion show proved to be a night to remember. Daniel’s care and attention to design were undoubtedly seen on the runway. Moreover, he finely stitched every detail of the evening like a high fashion garment, making certain that his guests were comfortable and delighted in every way.

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Matthew Morgan is the Editor of Bold City Voice, the Jacksonville division of One Christian Voice, LLC. A lifetime resident of Jacksonville, Matt also works as a cook in addition to dabbling in the business of photography and videography.