When Fashion Cares

Saturday, February 01, 2014 So Mimi 0 Comments

So, about that time that I walked the runway for New York Fashion
Week, wearing this lovely Nicole Miller frock. Yeah!

Oh, the significance of walking in the closing show of Spring NYFW... Because how often do everyday gals like me get an opportunity to sashay down the runway in Mercedes Freaking Benz Fashion Week mmmkay?

So how was it?

Terrifying. Amazing. Nervewracking. One of the best experiences ever for a fashion and style lovin' chile like me. I breathe to dress and rest.

As you can see, I'm a curvy gal, and no matter your size or level of experience on the runway, the fear of falling or looking fat looms over your head. I now know that feel. I was a total novice. Spanx and a cocktail boosted my confidence. I have a profound respect now for supermodels, I'll tell you that. They WERK.

In retrospect, besides the dress, the makeup and hair artists fussing over me, the event held so much significance because it was to benefit women who like myself, had been through tough times, that were resilient and beautiful for their character and strength.

The runway show was to raise money and awareness for an organization in New York City called Bottomless Closet, that does wonderful work helping women in transition compete in the workforce and offers professional development and support. I was honored to be involved. Bottomless Closet mentors and trains thousands of women to prepare resumes and go on successful job interviews, and personally helped me when I was new to the city and needed help to hit the pavement and job hunt in the competitive streets of the big apple. The work they do is so extensive and vital to the community. They've also helped women in different situations of life including survivors of trauma and violence, women moving up from public assistance employment, post incarceration, homelessness. Sometimes, its simply a matter of a woman needing help seeking better opportunities for career, not a job. 

They offer so many services to women, particularly, a consultation with a fab stylist/professional coach who will guide you through a beautiful, curated boutique of designer casual and business clothing and separates.

Let me tell you right now, the pieces in that boutique are a marvel, donated by designers and stores who care and support the work of this magnificent organization. We're talking Tory Burch, Kate Spade, Michael Kors, among many other designer labels you will stumble upon in the boutique. A gorgeous pair of nude patent Valentino pumps were just winking at me from the shoe displays. A sleek, sophisticated black leather structured Kate Spade tote was handed to me by my stylist, who had squealed with delight when she found it. The place is fashion heaven, all for a good cause, for women who deserve it.

Every woman having a consultation will shop the entire boutique for a suit, tops or blouses, some casual pieces, matching accessories (including jewelry, scarves, belts and purses). She will also get a makeup and skincare consultation, complete with a swag bag of top quality cosmetics as a gift. There was even a fragrance sample in my gift bag.

The amount of work and coordination that goes into making all of this possible for thousands of women everyday is no simple task, and donations and volunteers are essential to a large nonprofit organization like Bottomless Closet. I stayed in the loop after they helped me, participating in workshops, and coming to informational meetings at their headquarters.

My invitation to be in the runway show happened when I came back to BC for a complete makeover by celebrity stylist Derek Warburton, aka Derek Fabulous, an absolute sweetheart, who was the most warm and genuine guy. He expressed to me during my makeover that like the women at BC, he was no stranger to tough times either, and we clicked immediately. The 2012 Spring Fashion Week benefit show was Derek's baby, and he was selecting from a handful of women that he had met at the organization.

I was honored to be chosen, and I was promptly scheduled for a fitting, where I would meet with Nicole Miller herself at her headquarters in the garment district of Manhattan. That in itself was mind blowing and surreal. Ms. Miller was a total dear, talking openly with me. I saw so many gorgeous pieces, her fashion is FIERCE, and tried on three designs from her line, when we found the one that I would be fitted for and walk in at the show.

The day of the fashion show was pandemonium. My sister, an aspiring model herself, had come up to the city to attend. I was so excited to be sharing the experience with her. We had a ball traipsing the city before heading over to the very chic Empire Hotel, where the show was to be held later that afternoon. The plan was to hang out in the lounge before I'd have to go into hair and makeup for the runway.

Hair and makeup was a busy storm of blowdryers, hot styling tools, and every kind of brush and pixie dust you can think of flying at a high velocity in very skilled hands. I was given a luminescent glow and a slicked back ironed voluminous coif, ala Beyonce from the Sasha Fierce album cover art. Needless to say, I was over the moon upon seeing the results. I then slid into my dress, a black paneled column, paired with an ethereal foil print butterfly wrap on top. The sheer wrap piece was like a bolero/kimono sleeve hybrid, totally Mimitastic in every freaking way. And the jewel box clutch and shoes, gah!

Ten or twelve models, including yours truly, in total, having had their faces tweaked and hair whipped to perfection, dipped and decked out, were then ushered to an area where some would briefly speak to the media. We'd then scurry off to backstage, at which point the show would begin.

The music was pulsating. I could hear the crowd in the audience chatting enthusiastically in their seats. Derek Fabulous appeared to quickly reiterate tips from the rehearsal. Some women there had modeled prior. I was a newbie to the plank, so it comforted me when he came over to offer a couple of fast pointers for my trip down the runway. When my turn came, I decided to just be free, have fun with it and GIVE. So I step, cross, step, cross, all the way down, shoulders back, and stop, pose, pose, pose, twirl, and....that's when the flash from the cameras nearly blinded me. I couldn't see a thing for a full ten seconds, which is a long time on a runway. I blew a kiss to cover my moment of blind hesitation. OK, recover, walk back. Face the crowd, pose, exit. Whew! Then it was a wrap!

The adrenaline rush that pushed me down the runway began to taper off the minute I got backstage. The high fives I got from the other models waiting made me feel good. When the last model returned from her walk, we then all took a final group runway walk, then returned backstage to scream in celebration. It was a triumphant moment. As if more confirmation was needed of the greatness of that whole day, I could hear Derek in the background on stage closing the show, and he was choking up as he spoke about Bottomless Closet and how the closing event for NYFW'12 was for a cause near and dear to his heart. I knew then that the benefit had been a success, and I was proud to have been a part of it.

I share this story with you, not only because it was a epically fantastical day, but because its important to remember that when a woman feels good about herself, she looks good, and that's a daily fashion tip we can all wear everyday. Confidence is half the battle won. Bottomless Closet goes the extra mile to help women boost their self-esteem, and image, while improving valuable skill sets, and networking with like minded people who care about their success.  Please support the work they do. Donate, volunteer, or contact them to find out how you can help out. Giving back is so chic. More info about this wonderful organization, here.

Fashion has a heart, underneath it all.

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