The second edition of the annual Fashion Week Columbus kicks off this week (in salaciously stylish stilettos, one can only assume). With seven days - Oct. 9-15 - of events devoted to local fashion and beauty, founders and sponsors hope to show that this town is just as fierce as The Big Apple.

The second edition of the annual Fashion Week Columbus kicks off this week (in salaciously stylish stilettos, one can only assume). With seven days — Oct. 9-15 — of events devoted to local fashion and beauty, founders and sponsors hope to show that this town is just as fierce as The Big Apple.

“When we go to New York, they can’t believe we’re from Columbus,” said Debra Penzone, president of the Charles Penzone Family of Salons. “They’ll say, ‘I thought you were a cowtown.’ It’s not true. People here want to be in fashion … Columbus needed a fashion week. We have wonderful things happening here — CCAD, artists, designers, stylists. It was time to recognize local people for their talent.”

When Dont’e Young and Thomas McClure approached her company last year about being a major sponsor for the fashion week they were planning, Penzone said it was a no-brainer.

“You can not overlook their passion or excitement,” Penzone said of the pair of FWC founders.

Young, a public relations professional and owner of Young Enterprises, and McClure, a model, actor and former partner at Heyman Talent Agency, met only months before launching the inaugural FWC in 2010.

“We started our friendship and partnership at the same time,” Young said. “It’s been fruitful and exciting.”

Fashion is their touchstone. While studying architectural engineering and law in college, Young became a Realtor “to fund my shopping habit,” and McClure is addicted to design.

“Fashion is art,” McClure said. “I like the dramatic feeling of the runway shows. They’re mesmerizing.”

FWC is not the first of its kind in Columbus (a short-lived event called Columbus Fashion Week sprang up in 2007), but McClure and Young said they think the support they’ve seen from the public and their sponsors has a lot to do with their particular brand of teamwork.

“We had great contacts when we started,” Young said of his marketing networks and McClure’s modeling and fashion-world connections. “Those were two big components we needed to make it successful. And they really rallied behind it. It takes multiple people and avenues to pull this off. The funds we raise for charities help, too.”

And, Young said, because Columbus is a Midwestern incubator for national fashion (see: Limited Brands), FWC will only keep getting better as the industry catches on. That is, if this year’s FWC is any indication.

“Last year was good,” McClure said. “This year is amazing.”

Photo by Tessa Bargainnier