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Fashion show features gay, lesbian, transgender community

Kinera Royster wants to be known more for her talents than her appearance.

"There is more to me than being a man who wears heels and a wig," she said as she sifted through a clothing rack containing 11 garments she designed.

Royster, a self-taught designer, showcased her collection of clothes Thursday night at Red Maple in Fashion Alley, an event that featured gay, lesbian, transgender and gay-friendly models and designers. The first ever event in Baltimore served as a kick-off to this weekend's annual Gay Pride celebration.

"It's a celebration of everything that the LGBT community has to offer," said organizer Kimberli Lagree-Simmons. "We normally get overlooked, but today we will not."

Lagree-Simmons, who works for the clothing company A People United, came up with the concept for the show. "The LGBT community is the base of fashion," she added.

Lisa Revlon, a transgender model, participated in the event to help support the LGBT community and the local fashion industry.

"I hope that it will help the designers," said Revlon, who attended Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. She moved back to Baltimore several years ago after working in the fashion industry in New York City. "They have some good designers here in Baltimore that are overlooked."

Toria Turner, a former Wilhelmina model and an LGBT supporter, said she participated because the event embraced diversity.

"I'm all about diversity," she said as she laced up a pair of stiletto sandals. "This is a great way to showcase diversity and fashion. It is a great way to celebrate pride."

Virginia Smith, a makeup artist, said it was a no-brainer to lend her support.

"I have a lot of gay friends," she said. "It's all for a good cause. Why not?"

The 90-minute show, which was hosted by local drag queen Sabrina Blue, featured 16 models and five designers. The venue was packed with a spirited crowd who cheered and danced to runway music hits including "Run The World (Girls)" by Beyonce and "Rolling In The Deep" by Adele. Famed fashion show producer Travis Winkey was also in attendance.

Royster's designs, which she described as classy, sophisticated and upscale, closed out the show.

"Someday I hope to get out of Baltimore and show everyone what I'm able to do," Royster said, shortly before hitting the runway in one of her designs.

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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