It’s Charity, Bitch

May 21, 2010, 12:16 a.m.

Andy Warhol’s famous dictum, “Everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes” was presciently accurate for 38 gorgeous Stanford students last Saturday. A highly anticipated annual event, Charity Fashion Show (CFS) drew hundreds of spectators, photographers and designers alike to the colossal $50,000 tent erected on Roble Field.

It's Charity, BitchThe show featured 25 designers, most of who are locally based, as well as impressive pieces from four high school interns and such lionized names as Nanette Lapore and Eva Franco. With 25 consecutive sets displayed by 55 models–38 of whom were college students–and hundreds of priceless garments housed in a make-shift backstage delineated by portion of lawn, there was definite potential for chaos. But executive director Thom Scher ’11 and director of development Stephanie Werner ’11 somehow managed to make it work–and splendidly so.

“It’s completely crazy,” Werner states as she momentarily allows herself to catch her breath. “We’ve been up and running since 5:30 a.m. and we’ve added the diamond at the end of the runway.” I look up from my notebook and she’s vanished.

Although it is an entirely student-run production, CFS has recently been dubbed the largest fashion show on the West Coast and nearly doubled in capacity since the previous year.

So how do hundreds of glitzy garments, extortionate stilettos and opulent accessories perform philanthropy, one might ask. The “charity” behind Charity Fashion Show is executed via a donation to an annually nominated beneficiary that the board of directors believes befits CFS’s specific vocation. This time around, the organization will bestow all revenue to the non-profit, micro-finance organization Kiva, which aspires to alleviate poverty by connecting people through lending. Kiva, launched by Stanford alumni, enables individual lenders to grant micro-loans to noteworthy entrepreneurs around the world. It is Charity Fashion Show’s aim to pair up with Kiva in order to “fund loans specifically designed for entrepreneurs in the fashion and garment industry.”

The opening guest performance by San Francisco-based alternative-electro group Fans of Jimmy Century was off-putting to say the least. Fiery redheaded vocalist Alicia Peron was not exactly successful in galvanizing the crowd for the ensuing event. But as soon as the lights dimmed and the eloquent Scher treaded onto the catwalk, the audience was instantly animated and became increasingly so as CFS’s promotional video flashed across the backdrop.

The show opened with Dutch designer Tosca Soraya’s line, and although black and white seemed to be the colors du jour, don’t designate her collection gothic. On the contrary, it had a luxe feminine feel, with lacy eyelet trim on everything from collars and petticoats to patent leather sweatshirts. Soraya’s fierce collection immediately took a colorful turn with splatter-painted leggings and bodysuits, and gowns boasting watercolor-like geometric prints. Additionally, her architectural garments incorporated waistlines that were both low slung and cinched at the ribcage, providing a variation for every figure.

It's Charity, BitchAs the evening unfolded, models strutted to remixes of Brit-pop phenomenon M.I.A, as well as mash-ups of Fiest, Santogold and the French quartet Phoenix before suggestively sauntering down the catwalk to ACDC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long.” In this raunchy set, negligibly attired girls swaggered down the runway in nothing but pinstriped men’s dress shirts and knee-socks, accompanied by their polka-dotted boxer-bearing contemporaries.

Toward the end of the show, the menswear collection Kent Denim surprisingly garnered the most whistles and cat calls due to the well-sculpted torsos that graced the runway. The collection was a standout stockpile of modern staples that were paradoxically Western with a metropolitan appeal. Crafted out of high-end materials like brushed herringbone, checkered plaid and crisply structured tweed, the collection looked stunning hanging from the brawny shoulders of Stanford students.

As the evening came to a close the tent was abuzz with swooning fashionistas and the occasional proud parent, all exclaiming that the event was the best it had ever been. Charity Fashion Show is a must-see for next year because let’s face it, nothing tops watching your friends conquer the catwalk bedecked in designer duds. Besides, as first-year model Kiyan Williams ’13 so accurately mused, “It’s charity, bitch.”

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