Couture For a Cause

Richmonders throw a great party, save the world AT THE SAME TIME

Friday night’s Couture For a Cause fashion show at Plaza Bowl not only was a success, but really captured the electrifying vibe that’s going around the local fashion scene.  The show was a high-heeled, dressed-up hullabaloo, but relaxed enough to fit in comfortably at Richmond’s favorite duckpin bowling establishment.  As some of the city’s most ubiquitous girls-about-town hit the runway, attendees listened to 50s classics and looked on from crayon-colored booths.

The show featured ladies’ clothing by Shabby Apple, an online boutique that manages to produce designs that strike the perfect balance between jaw-droppingly unique and classically practical. Glamorous party dresses with details like oversized collars, ruffles, and tucking stood out equally in black as in green and blue jewel tones.  Shabby Apple takes the concept of the little black dress and reinforces why this wardrobe staple never gets boring.  Several dresses they featured were also very stylish while remaining structured and office-ready.  Silhouettes were predominantly hourglass, rather than favoring rail-thin waifs only (as the recent trends with tent dresses have done).  Most impressively, these pieces have a very current feel, but unlike throwaway fads, they have the ability to remain reliable occupants of the closet for years to come.

Rumors Boutique outfitted the gentlemen with selections from their own store and Exile, choosing button-ups and vests for a polished, wintry look.  Casey Longyear, co-owner of Rumors, commented on the ease of throwing together the menswear.  “I think people forget about it or don’t think to look for vintage there, but she really has a lot,” she said, speaking of the availability of vintage mens’ shirts at Exile.  The men made dapper companions for the elegantly dressed ladies in their used fashions.

Instead of the usual beer and french fries, the concession area was laden with a truly top-notch feast.  Champagne Taste Catering provided a slew of fantastic snacks: asparagus, spring rolls, shrimp, artichoke cheese dip, and various sweets including cannolis.  Several guests commented on the abundance and quality of food, as well as the lavish cocktails being mixed at an adjacent table.  Live music also contributed to the overall festivity, as Wrenn Magnum entertained with his spot-on rockabilly tunes.

And all this glitz was piled on to benefit Unitus, an organization that provides microloans to impoverished women in India.  “Shabby Apple, which is a women-owned and operated company, believes in women empowerment and wants to help as much as they can with the lives of other women. With that being said, they decided to donate a percentage of every dress sale to help alleviate global poverty worldwide for women and their families. Each of our dresses that are purchased come with a unique hang tag with a micro-credit success story,” said Natalie Oddenino, Marketing Manager for Shabby Apple.  “As for the fashion show, we thought that this would be yet another perfect opportunity to raise money for Unitus and women around the world. We realized that every company that is participating in the show (expect for the venue space) is women-owned and also have similar beliefs as Shabby Apple.”

This event isn’t the first charity event thrown by Richmond fashionistas, and judging by the momentum adding up with local boutiques, bands, designers, and friends willing to put in some effort to make a difference, it won’t be the last.  Couture For a Cause was presented by Community Chest RVA, a new group that books and promotes events at Plaza Bowl.  Several bowling lanes have ben closed off to make space for a stage, dancefloor, runway, or what-have-you, and their recent series of successful events will likely be followed with more of the same.  With the promise of a new multi-purpose venue in town and people energetic enough to arrange and attend events, it woudn’t be too optimistic to say that these folks are working toward something bigger.

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Tess Shebaylo

Tess Shebaylo is a freelance writer, crafter, history geek, and compulsive organizer. She works at Tumblr and lives in Church Hill with her daughter, Morella.

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