Company brings lavish events to Bellevue

Between juggling a full-time position as the Marketing and Events Project Manager at the University of Washington and executing lavish fashion shows, event planner Courtney Russell has her hands full.

Between juggling a full-time position as the Marketing and Events Project Manager at the University of Washington and executing lavish fashion shows, event planner Courtney Russell has her hands full.

Ask her how she finds the time and the founder of Eastside-based Half Past Lavish productions will just shrug and smile.

“It’s my passion,” she explained at a recent sit down dinner with the Reporter. “If I was getting paid or I wasn’t getting paid, planning events is something I am passionate about.”

Her next move: to take the Bellevue fashion and event scene by storm.

Russell moved from New York to Seattle three years ago and began to pursue a variety of jobs. She continued to plan events on the side. While working for International Academy of Design and Technology in Seattle, she became entranced with the fashion aspect of event planning.

She quickly found her niche among the runways and bright lights. With an undergraduate degree in theater and a master’s degree in counseling, Russell built a substantial client list. She then started her own business.

“Fashion shows allow for the drama and the creativity that are like second nature to me. Working with the fashion designers, the models and makeup artists - it’s a really creative process so everyone brings something to the table,” she explained. “I like the creative spark that happens when working with a group of artistic people.”

Half Past Lavish now oversees major clients including the Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra, a non-profit organization established to provide a positive musical environment for students. She also uses her creativity and experience to plan weddings on any budget.

“I once planned a wedding with only $500 to spend. It was a challenge but I pulled it off,” she said.

This past October, Russell was chosen to take part in the Masquerade Fashion Show as a judge at the Bellevue Art Museum.

“What I love about Bellevue is the abundance of resources and vibrancy of the city and the people who live here,” she said. “I plan to bring more fashion events to the Bellevue scene this coming year.”

When Russell has a free moment she often fills her time brainstorming her next big event.

“What excites me the most about my company is that I try to come up with events and shows that this area hasn’t tapped into yet,” Russell said. “When I’m not planning for someone specific I will brainstorm a whole new concept to bring to this city,” she explained.

Recently, Russell developed and executed EcoLavish: an eco-conscious fashion show that took place at the the Fremont Abbey Arts Center. The environmentally-friendly show brought locally-based “green” designers together for an evening focused on sustainability and fashion.

“What keeps me so passionate about my company are the ongoing challenges that come my way. When I come across an idea that I feel would appeal to the public, I now have the platform to produce and develop it from scratch and the great backdrop of this city to work with,” Russell said.

For a list of upcoming events and to find more information about Half Past Lavish, visit www.halfpastlavish.com.

Lindsay Larin can be reached at llarin@bellevuenews.us or at 425-453-4602.