Final Fantasy XIV Community Spotlight: The Catwalk Fashion Show

Final Fantasy 14 has a whole sub-community dedicated to fashion. There are those who just don new clothes to score points on the Fashion Report, while other players have a glamour plate for each day of the week and clothes spilling out of their armoury chests. Whether you fully embrace it or ignore it, you can’t escape fashion when it comes to Eorzea.

A select few venues cater to fashionista Warriors of Light. I was recently invited to The Catwalk on Phoenix to watch their latest fashion show, the theme of which was Candyland. As it was one of the rare occasions I could attend a community event as my main character, I made sure I dressed the part in a pink Songbird dress, but I kept my Nier hooker boots on.

Before watching the models strut their stuff, Laraya Tashyk, the venue owner, showed me around the place, including a backstage peek at the gorgeous dressing room for the models to use. One of the most exciting areas of the venue was the brand-new Le Chique Boutique, which offers a range of glamour outfits that players can purchase to get their WoL’s some shiny new threads.

“It’s the first time we’re offering this kind of service, and I've seen a few people stop by and look at the outfits. That's already a success to me,” Laraya says. “At the moment, designing the outfits was a task for [co-manager] Amaya and myself. We are still looking for a boutique manager to take care of things and do things on a regular basis. It’s planned to change the outfits frequently, but we can't ensure this at the moment, sadly. Rome wasn't built in one day, so we’ll keep working on things.”

Models for the Candyland fashion show were asked to create glamour outfits for three different categories. One for combat, one for casual wear, and one that was a secret until the end of the show — the pleasures of life, where each model had to make a glamour that suited what made them happy. The whole show also had the wonderful music of DJ Prima Ballerina throughout to keep things lively.

Glamour outfits included all the pretty pink and pastel-coloured dyes you could dream of. Some of my favourites were the candy-themed costumes, such as the Candy Corn, peppermint, and pudding-inspired costumes. As models showcased their favourite hobbies or job roles in the final category, one took the Candyland theme to the next level by showcasing their love of candy with a superb Willy Wonka-inspired glam.

Judges then weighed in with opinions as the models walked the runway, with all models returning to the stage after each category so votes could be cast. Laraya encourages audience participation, preferring this method to having the staff decide who wins each time. Votes are cast using Google forms, with each player leaving their character name so Laraya can be sure of no funny business.

Prizes on offer were the Fat Moogle Mount for the first place winner, a Mog Station glamour outfit of choice for second place, and 1,000,000 gil for third place. With such generous prizes to be won, you can see why Laraya has to ensure that voting is kosher. The overall winner will also join The Catwalk’s hall of fame and be given the option of returning to future fashion shows as a judge.

Anyone can register as a model for events, with Laraya sharing a sign-up sheet before each event on Discord. The only exceptions are previous winners, who are not allowed to participate again to ensure others have a chance of taking home the crown. In situations where more models apply than there are available slots, randomisers are used to ensure everything stays fair.

The Catwalk first opened on March 18, 2022 and offers two types of events — fashion shows and date auctions. “In the end, it is all about having a good concept and something new and refreshing to get events going,” Laraya explains. “That's why I decided we wouldn’t open weekly or twice a week. We open Fridays bi-weekly and switch between two events — the fashion show and the date auction.

“The second one is people offering their services on our stage, and people can bid on them. The variety of services they offer is getting bigger and bigger. We started with people only offering RP services. Now, we have people offering to draw someone's character. The concept is simple. The ‘ware’ offers their service, and the audience can bid on them. We take ten percent of the highest bid as a club cut but not to enrich ourselves, more to finance club changes.”

Laraya wanted to reinvigorate the roleplaying scene in FF14, especially as she felt like many venues were fighting to be the number one club and all competing for the best DJ sets. Though Laraya acknowledges that not all venues were falling into the same trap, she wanted to create something different for players to get involved with.

“The Catwalk has been a breath of fresh air in an RP scene that lost itself in the DJ competition,”Schulenina Kurae, The Catwalk’s receptionist, tells me. “I’m always looking forward to the next opening, either to watch models put an incredible amount of effort in their glam or to see which new services could be provided.”

The Catwalk staff all volunteer their time to help out and make the venue something to be proud of. The income from the date auction is split between all staff, but other than that, they work unpaid. The team is very dedicated to the venue and applauds The Catwalk for bringing something new to the table when it comes to the RP community, as well as appreciating Laraya’s hard work.

“What makes The Catwalk special to me, regardless of the visually gorgeous aesthetic of the interior and the entire theme, is that the venue idea of The Catwalk is simply unique and refreshing,” bartender Zuhmhe'li Mhilfimi tells me. “It’s not something you see every day, and the atmosphere is extremely welcoming and warm. Once you step into The Catwalk, you can be sure you’ll be greeted with bright smiles and open arms. The Catwalk alternates between events, which always bring a myriad of colourful patrons and participants to the stage. The owner is definitely the jewel and heart of The Catwalk, always putting the most time and effort into making things fun and exciting for everyone, not just the visitors.”

"In The Catwalk, it’s possible to empathise with the roleplayers,” Amaya Lyn adds. “It’s a place to admire and celebrate the creativity of the players. Each show is individually designed, and the staff sticks together like a family, and that is exactly what makes The Catwalk so unique."

You can visit The Catwalk in War 2, Plot 15 of the Mist on Phoenix, or join their dedicated Discord to keep up with news and events.

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