Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fashion show draws attention to downtown Exeter

By Lara Bricker
February 17, 2009 6:00 AM

EXETER — Models strutted their stuff to the funky music of The Head inside Town Hall Friday, where they showed off the latest fashions from local boutiques.

On Feb. 13 the Flush Funk and Fashion Series, organized by Exeter native Scott Ruffner, featured live music, lights and fashions from Luna Chics, Ablaze and Sexy Skins.

"It made me think more about my style," said audience member Frank Sabin, who joked, "It made me think I need to go tighter."

Many of the female models wore form-fitting bodice tops from Sexy Skins, a suede and leather fashions company in Newmarket. Brent Peters, of Sexy Skins, said the show was a great way to get exposure for their apparel.

"The more we do this, the more exposure we'll get and people will know who we are," Peters said. "We hope to promote, we hope to sell; we want everybody to have a good time."

Male models were decked out in denim and casual tops, and some were not new to the modeling game.

"It was familiar stomping ground because I used to model full-time when I lived in New York City," said Evan Maniquis, one of the models for the evening.

But others, like Mara Blanchette, were moonlighting at the event as models for a chance to try something new.

"It's really fun. It's just something different to do," Blanchette said. "I love wearing all the great clothes."

This is the second time that Ruffner, with his band, The Head, has held a fashion show event in town. Their last one was held at the Ioka Theater before it closed and was a sold-out affair. Ruffner said Friday's show was a success.

"The event was a lot of fun for everyone in the show, and the addition of local dancers into the mix was a perfect fit," Ruffner said. "It's just a shame that The Ioka is still shut down. That is truly the perfect local venue for what we're trying to do."

While the event aimed to showcase local fashions and music, it was also designed to draw people to Exeter's downtown. Those with tickets to the show were given discounts on dinners at participating restaurants, including The Tavern at River's Edge, Pimentos, 11 Water Street and Epoch.

"I took part in this because we're trying to keep people in town and show people who normally wouldn't come to town where the tavern is," said the restaurant's owner, Jeff Roth, who hosted an after-show party with the band The Head that was standing room only by 10 p.m.

Participating businesses stayed open late or offered special deals to encourage people to take in the town. The Exeter Inn offered discounted rooms to those who attended the show. La Cave a Vin, a specialty wine and cheese shop, hosted a wine tasting.

"We need more of this," said Exeter resident Susan Stewart, as she sipped a red wine at the tasting. "If Exeter did more of this, people would come."

Her husband, David, said he feels that Exeter's downtown shops and restaurants are unique in the area and a good option for those looking for a place to go out between Portsmouth and Newburyport, Mass.

"There's no place else in the Seacoast that has a town like this," he said. "Exeter is an excellent town with a lot of variety. They need to promote themselves like this more often."

The event drew at least one newcomer to town, Diego Gonzales, who is stationed at the Coast Guard Station in Portsmouth. Gonzales and two of his fellow Coast Guard members decided to check out the event and were impressed.

To check out a photo gallery and music from the show go to

Photographs courtesy of Jamie Wade,

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