Monday, March 3, 2008


Her name — the one on the right — is Celeste.

She works as the fashion correspondent for a San Francisco television station. Because of her profession, she dons the newest and most unexpected getups.

A lime-green wool blazer with fuchsia stripes. Pink and black houndstooth miniskirt. Fishnets. Black legwarmers. Suede pumps.

Celeste, who is reporting on the city's fashion week, is about to escort her three closest girlfriends to one of the celebration's top-shelf events.

To Willie Freitas, visual merchandiser for the Red Light shop in the University District, each month is a new episode in his West Coast version of TV's "Sex and the City." Freitas has invented names, jobs and identities for the four mannequins displayed in the shop's front window. The characters help him find inspiration. Each month their story changes. So do their outfits.

Celeste is the trendsetter. Her friend Jackie is a district attorney and a lesbian. Athena works as an art gallery owner. Daphnie slings drinks as a barista/bartender. She's trying to become an actress, but struggles. She is one of those "I-don't-know-what-to-do-with-my-life friends."

Freitas tries not to play favorites. He wants each of his mannequins to look equally good, but distinctly different. That way, different types of girls can identify with one of his four fashionistas.

But casting a set of characters sometimes creates challenges.

"If something doesn't look right to me, I feel like she hates it," Freitas says. "Sometimes they stress me out because I want them to look perfect."

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All images copyright Erika Schultz or The Seattle Times