Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fashion for Hope 2010 shines bright on Women for Women International

The second annual Fashion for Hope 2010 gala raised more than hope for its benefactor, Women for Women International; it solidified support. Fashionistas and philanthropists gathered in the Renaissance Hotel ballroom Sunday night to pledge their commitment to “Change the World: One Woman at a Time.”

As the evening’s emcee, WUSA9’s Anita Brikman set the tone with one simple statement: “We [Americans] take for granted the tenets of our freedoms.” Those freedoms compromised in time of conflict. Organizations such as Women for Women International restore lives.

From its DC-office, the organization collaborates with in-country specialists to operate its 12-week job-training program for women living in conflict and post-conflict zones. In Bosnia, women cooperatives turn their skill in knitting into a business and in Africa, the women apply modern techniques to dying fabrics. To reach these women, however, organizers must go through the men first.

“Many of these villages where we work are run by male tribal leaders and we have to ask their permission and/or convince them to offer the training to the women in their community,” says Dieu Tran, Marketing and Outreach Coordinator. “We are working with women who have to overcome much adversity.”

How can a fashion show support such cause?

“Tonight’s event is very much a cultural exchange,” Tran said. “We are here to learn about each other.”

If 80s ruled the fall 2010 shows, then House of Kas dominated the 70s. The local fashion house showcased ready-to-wear and cocktail hour ensembles in tradition of wide-leg trousers, lots of satin and sheen, and Italian-cut suits anchored by floral wide-ties. One Lenny Kravitz-look alike modeled a cream trench coat worn over cream wide-legged trousers and paisley button-down top with confidence and cool.

MinnaK, a New York designer, wooed the audience with airy cocktail and bride dresses. Several models floated down the runway in floor-length 40’s glam bridal gowns – white accented with black beading or belts - while her counterpart walked steadily not to be missed in her jewel-tone thigh-grazing cocktail dress.

The remaining four emerging designers drew inspiration from their contemporaries that included rocker chic, hip-hop, and the power suit.

“This is more than a fashion show,” says Denita Austin, of Inner Expressions. “This is about supporting women all over the world. It’s really a beautiful moment.”

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