Zest Fest aims to bring exposure to fashion designers in the Central area of California


Zest Fest is a new fashion concept hitting the scene in Fresno and revitalizing Chinatown. (Sarah Delgado/The Collegian)

By Sarah Delgado, Lifestyle Editor

In the middle of the Zest Fest show, Lindsey Pugh, a guest designer, stunned attendees with her elegant designs. Utilizing textiles with glitters, and experimenting with nonconforming angled hems, her collection took a fantastical approach.

She said it was “exhilarating” to see her garments as the models showcased her clothing. Pugh’s brand, Fastened By Lyn, is driven by dystopian ideas to create empowering garments for individuals.

“It’s definitely influenced by dystopian movies. I wanted to create a world to wear my clothes. And so I actually started by writing a synopsis in my own dystopian world where fashion is a hierarchy. And so I was very influenced by Madman,” she said.

Zest Fest was a gala full of fashion appreciation and vendor recognition. The event was staged on Feb. 5 by Anndrea Villarreal and Mikey Garcia, designers and owners of their shared storefront called Kordova x Ms. Limón V.

A collection by Lindsey Pugh has fantastical undertones and unconventional fabrics. (Sarah Delgado/The Collegian)

The new annual Zest Fest aims to bring the community together in celebrating fashion in a new revitalized area of Fresno’s Chinatown. 

Pugh was the third artist to display her work. She is a self-taught costume designer with eight years of sewing experience, but this was her first attempt at fashion.

“Events like this give the opportunity for those voices to be heard. Especially for me, I’m not very eloquent with my words, but I feel my passion speaks for itself,” she said.

“It was an amazing experience to actually see them come to life and to see what a person looks like with it on,” Pugh added.

All of Pugh’s clothes are available for sale. She is also releasing an art book through Blurb that details her creative process.

Zest Fest opened with creations from Sacramento designer Gina Iwata. She created Pixiegift Fashions, specializing in hyper-feminine designs. 

Pixiegift Fashions has been in operation since 2014, but this is Iwata’s first time doing a fashion show in Fresno. 

She told The Collegian that she was excited to showcase her work as a Sacramento native.

“We just have so much in common. I think the way we get throughout this journey is different but I mean we’re all the same and we’re all very supportive. Sacramento would be really interested in what Fresno is doing now,” she said.

“I think that whether you’re Central, Northern, Southern, we all need to be together. We’re a community and that’s what’s really important out here. We all need to be working together,” Iwata added.

Iwata’s clothing was present both on the runway and vendor space, with her designs being modeled and matching hair accessories being sold. She explained how her clothing also embraces her heritage:

“I just want to be happy and I just want to create things that make me happy and hopefully, other people are empowered by that. I am making up for all the times I’ve never been empowered. You know, [I’m] Asian American. I’m kind of just taking that power back for myself and I noticed other people feel that way.”

Pixiegift Fashions garments are for sale as well as available for commissions.

Garcia’s brand, Kordova,  was showcased soon after. Designs encapsulated techwear, with reflective harnesses and neon colors. Models were decorated with bucket hats and sunglasses.

Garcia said his brand represents his state of mind and his imagination, with much of his designs being handmade. 

His collection for the runway embraced neon, with models in futuristic-style streetwear and others in subtle glitters. Two of the models were suited in dresses, with one in a strapless leopard silhouette and the other in a subtle, chromatic glitter dress.

Kordova is a brand that faced trial and error and a passion project that showcases a visual representation of Garcia’s graphic design skills.

He started it in high school but it fell through. Garcia tried again in college, but went through financial obstacles.

When Garcia finally found a manufacturer, it was at the start of the pandemic.

“It really was a light to push for me to start doing the clothes myself again, learning how to sew. I think that’s kind of the beauty and the light is just like keep going. Don’t give up,” he added.

Now, Kordova is up and running, along with its collaborative partner Ms. Limón V. 

Villarreal is the designer of Ms. Limón V. Villarreal presented two collections: one inspired by the pandemic and the impact it had on sex workers, and the other showcasing Villarreal’s take on formal wear.

In her first collection, Villarreal’s streetwear displayed words like “subscribe” and “tips” across the garments. The words represented industries such as OnlyFans and embraced exotic dancers. Hems were cut short and the exposure of skin was imminent for this collection.

Part of the profits earned from purchasing Ms. Limón V is donated to charities. (Sarah Delgado/The Collegian)

Villarreal’s second collection had models walking in formal gowns. Models broke conformist standards by wearing fabrics uncommonly seen on masculine silhouettes. The collection surpasses gender binary norms in formal apparel and, like the first set, embraces the exposure of skin.

Ms Limón V derives from Villarreal’s childhood nickname. Her motivations to create a brand stem from big name designer flaws and limitations in styles. 

When she was 19, she noticed some expensive brand clothing had some flaws, like Agent Provocateur for example.

“I thought, ‘Well, why don’t I just do this myself,’” she said.

Villarreal capped off Zest Fest with her collection but will continue to host future galas.

Garcia and Villarreal will continue to hold monthly fashion shows and feature local designers. For next year’s Zest Fest, they hope to invite high school student designers to showcase their creations.

“There is fashion in California that isn’t just Valentino and the higher brands. Independent designers do have talent and it’s time to watch us,” Villarreal said.

The next Zest Fest is Jan. 27, 2024, in the Dick’s Menswear Building. Kordova x Ms. Limón will hold its next fashion show on March 2 during ArtHop.

A night of fashion that only marks the beginning of the fashion scene. (Sarah Delgado/The Collegian)