Charity Fashion Show proves why it’s the best runway event on the West Coast

CFS finale gown by Danielle Pette.  Photo by Doug Birnbaum.

The Charity Fashion (CFS) show started fifteen years ago as a part of the Stanford University Asian American Cultural Show.  At the time, it was an event that was geared towards raising awareness about sweatshop labor in the garment industry in Asia.  In 2007, Charity Fashion Show broke off and became it’s own entity with a more global emphasis in its program.  This began the Charity Fashion Show’s consistent emergence as one of the largest fashion shows on the West Coast, pushing the envelope with its innovative, creative and well executed events.  CFS is now dedicated to fostering a more ethnically diverse concept of beauty, bringing together people, inspiration and fashion.  The event is entirely produced by Stanford students who have professional experience in the fashion industry.  It is now the largest fashion show on the West Coast based on size of audience, number of designers present and length of runway.  

CFS Executive Director Thom Scher greeting the crowd.  Photo by Rachna Paul.
This year’s event was held at Stanford on May 15, 2010 with an attendance of over 1,500 people.  Charity Fashion Show Executive Director Thom Scher and Director of Development Stephanie Werner were instrumental in this year’s event.  Stephanie Werner said “Organizing and producing Charity Fashion Show is a huge opportunity and experience.  With CFS, we have the freedom to create a truly innovative event, bringing together arts promotion, cultural diversity, community involvement, and global outreach while truly enhancing the West Coast fashion scene. The show itself is a huge adrenaline rush.  Between escorting press and VIP guests, collaborating with designers on last minute styling and ensuring that each model makes it onto the runway in the proper order and look, often with only 30 seconds to change between sets, working behind the scenes at Charity Fashion Show is crazy, hectic, fun, and incredible all at once.  Both Executive Director Thom Scher and I were hugely pleased with the event itself and all of the positive feedback we received afterwards.  The biggest motivating factor for us is probably the people we get to work with.  For as much as I love event producing and fashion, none of the hard work that goes into Charity Fashion Show would be worth it without the people.  From our staff and models – all of whom are Stanford students – to the incredibly creative and talented designers and stylists, to the our participating sponsors and all the fun press in attendance, the people just really can’t be beat.”
Paparazzi taking pictures of SF designer Danielle Pettee in from of the Helium Magazine backdrop. 
Photo by Doug Birnbaum.

One of the main sponsors of the event was Helium Magazine, a new fashion magazine in the Bay Area that launched their inaugural issue at the show.  Their presence was evident from the moment attendees walked toward the big CFS white tent and was greeted by a 10 foot tall Helium CFS advertisement, which was the backdrop for photo shoots.

Alicia Perrone and Victor James of Fans of Jimmy Century.  Photo by Rachna Paul.
 The show began with an amazing performance by band Fans of Jimmy Century.  They rocked the runway with their strong vocals, instrumental prowess and powerful onstage presence.  The lead singer Alicia Perrone had a punk elegance and worked the runway beautifully.  In regards to her outfit, she said she was “channeling Antonio Banderas’ Puss ‘N Boots from the movie Shrek.  Since we were playing such a spectacular fashion event, I thought I would be well-suited to appear as “the fashion risk” of the evening.”  Alicia wore a creative outfit of knit basics decorated with sparkle foam moustaches, a moustache necklace from New York Couture’s Fairy Tale Collection, a modified black hat and funky high platforms.  “My comfort zone are moustaches, fake foil cigarettes, bohemian beatniks, black velvet paintings and as many colors as I can possibly mash up on the body and face, so that’s generally been my inspiration so far.  The more avant-garde and riskier things get, the more comfortable I feel for sure!  The only thing missing was my sword!”  

Drummer Allen Bellamy Chiu interviewing designer Melissa Bolin of Kitty Andrews Millinery.  
Photo by Rachna Paul.

Drummer Allen Bellamy Chiu was wearing a German Air Force visor hat, German fox fur scarf, vintage 1920’s vest, and slim fit denim jeans.  Guitarist Victor James rounded out the group in his Armani Exchange shirt and American Apparel slim pants.  Their appearance showed off the band’s stylistic edginess, however they are really about the music.  Beautiful, smooth vocals and uptempo beats entertained and pumped up the energy of the crowd.  Some of the songs they performed include Blond Ambition Red Temptation, Hush Madame X, French Connection and Hot Sahara.

Tosca Soraya Otten gown.  Photo by Rachna Paul.

After the great performance by Fans of Jimmy Century, the evening could have easily ended on a fulfilling note, however that was just the prelude to the entertaining evening of fashion.  The main part of the event was the highly anticipated runway show.  Participating designers included Tosca Soraya Otten (avant garde fashion), Shin Choi (RTW), Magdalena Trever (swimwear), Clutch Couture (organic denim & knits), Mary Meyer (knits), Maryam Garba (RTW), Kitty Andrews Millinery (headpieces), Future Faces of Fashion high school student interns (Nicoe Pansoy, Elizabeta Shmatko, Taylor Tompane and Mary Lucas), Alexandria Von Bromssen (RTW), Morgan Olson (RTW), Carole Hochman (sleepwear), WDesigns (evening wear), Civil Society (men’s apparel), Karen Lum (RTW), Swati Couture (couture), Priestess NYC (RTW), Aksel Paris (men’s apparel), Nanette Lepore (RTW), Lenny (swimwear), Kittinhawk (evening wear), Kent Denim (men’s apparel), Eva Franco (dresses) and Danielle Pettee (evening dresses).  The flow of collections worked together perfectly, ranging from streetwear to avant-garde, from sleepwear to evening wear.  Color palettes varied from designer to designer, ranging from all-black to bright usage of colors.  Each collection brought to the runway something unique and memorable.

Swati Couture gown.  Photo by Rachna Paul.

Just a few of the many highlights of the evening include Tosca Soraya Otten’s avante-garde evening wear, Swati Couture’s elegant couture dresses, Kitty Andrews Millinery’s festive hats and headpieces, Alexandria Von Bromssen’s edgy outfits and Danielle Pettee’s colorful, fun evening dresses.  With over 20 designers showcasing their collections, detailed reviews on each collection will be published within the coming weeks.

Danielle Pettee dress.  Photo by Rachna Paul.

All proceeds from the show is being donated to KIVA, a global micro-finance non-profit organization.  Sponsorship money is still coming in, but they are expecting to make a generous donation to KIVA, supporting loans to at least 25 entrepreneurs.  

Who knew Starbucks could be a hit on the runway?  Sleepwear by Carole Hochman.  Photo by Rachna Paul.

The Charity Fashion Show was a success in major part due to the donation of services and monetary contributions from sponsors.  The vendor for the tent, sound and light was Spider Ranch Productions.  All hair styling for the models was done by Umbrella SalonSmartwater even hosted a special preview showing of the Tosca Soraya Otten collection a week before the Charity Fashion Show.  Other event sponsors include Best Buy, Blackfest 2010, Bless Makeup Artistry, Candy Kitchen, Creative Nail Design, Cyperus Media, Daniel Craig Promotions, Epic Center, Equinox, Gap, Helium Magazine, KIVA, Label San Jose, Monster Energy, National Marriage Boycott, Neiman Marcus, OPI, Popchips, Red Label Films, Samba Glow, Shoppista, Stanford Terrace Inn, The Stanford Fund, Vivanista, Wasteland and W Designs.

CFS attendees enjoying Popchips.  Photo by Rachna Paul.

The event was driven by the management of Executive Director Thom Scher and Director of Development Stephanie Werner.  Both have experience in the fashion industry and with organizing CFS: Thom joined CFS his first year at Stanford, 3 years ago and Stephanie joined last year.  When asked how it was working with Thom and Stephanie, model Lisa Yun Chen commented that “Thom and Stephanie were great to work with.  They are so professional with what they have done. Their stellar behind-the-scenes involvement really paid off when it all came together so seamlessly on the day of.”

The CFS team was complemented by Brook Smith, Creative Principal, who did all the styling for CFS and Lexi Butler, Director of Events, who Stephanie claims “has some of the best on-site management skills I’ve seen.”  Other people on the CFS team include Misha Nasrollahzadeah, Robert Pothier, Saroya Whatley, Ashley Chang, Alice Avery, Tiffany Lani Wyche, Arielle Aryah, Maxine Lim, Nina Brentlinger, Valerie Frank, Nick Maisonave, Lee Axelrod, Maria del Carmen Barrios, and Michael Hamamoto.

Charity Fashion Show is already working on next year’s show, following up with sponsors and designers to lay the groundwork for the year.  Stephanie Werner said “It’s a very, very long planning process, but we truly love what we do and love making Charity Fashion Show the best it can be.”

The Charity Fashion Show has developed its own unique voice within the world of fashion.  For sponsorship opportunities for the 2011 Charity Fashion Show, please contact Stephanie Werner at Stephanie@CharityFashionShow.Org.  Additional details on the Charity Fashion Show and how you can get involved can be found on their website,  Make sure to mark your calendar to attend next year’s big fashion event!
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