Author: Noel Hemphill
The first-ever Occidental College Great Strides Charity Fashion Show kicked off in a flurry of silky fabrics and well-pressed khakis. The show is a continuation of the Programming Board’s charitable work with proceeds from ticket sales going to Occidental’s Great Strides program.
Male volunteers modeled looks by
Brooks Brothers while volunteer female Occidental student models strutted looks by Carmen Couture and The eXchange, a local consignment
shop. Models showcased their looks for an audience of students and community members from a runway constructed in the center of the Tiger Cooler. All of the outfits featured in the show were donated and fitted to
The event had many facets of a traditional fashion show with
loud music pumping into the room, mini desserts and free
gift bags for guests. However the show also offered a departure from
convention by encouraging Occidental students of all sizes to walk the catwalk.
Using healthy college students was important to Programming Board member and organizer of the fashion show Amanda Perez, as the mission
of Great Strides is promote health and fitness. The presentation of
models of various body types also meshed with the ideals of featured
designer Carmen Couture’s line “UGLY: U Gotta Love Yourself.”
The focus of the event was to raise money for the children involved in Great Strides, an organization started in 2007 by three Occidental students in partnership with Garvanza Elementary school. Great Strides is a mentorship program that introduces elementary school students to college athletes.
Perez explained that she was deeply passionate about the program because of its mission to encourage kids to get active and teach them about nutrition. Perez personally witnessed the change that mentorship and physical activity made in children’s lives and would like to see the program expand.
“At the end of every semester, [the kids] come to Occidental to see what college life is like,” Perez said. “I want to expand the program, but for the moment the money will go to buying new equipment and recruiting more coaches.”
The event has been a long time in the making, according to Perez. The idea for a charity fashion show first came about last school year, but it took time to find the right resources and venue. With Perez’s experience and connections from her position as the Pasadena representative in the Miss California Pageant, the show finally became a reality with a runway in the center of Occidental’s Tiger Cooler.
“Last year, I didn’t have the tools to execute it at that point. Before, I didn’t know any designers but from being Miss Pasadena, I have met a lot of designers and made a lot of connections. For example, Brooks Brothers and Carmen Couture are two of my sponsors, and showcased their looks,” Perez said.
Guests like professional model and student Brandilyn Tebo (sophomore) agreed that the event was very enjoyable.
“It was a lot of fun, I enjoyed watching it. Everyone was great! I enjoyed the personalities. It wasn’t a serious, hardcore fashion show – there were actual people walking the runway,” Tebo said.
The student models also enjoyed themselves, according to volunteers Alex Keat (sophomore) and Sarah Kessler (senior).
“I heard it was for charity, and I thought it was a great opportunity,” Keat said. “We got fitted at Brooks Brothers [on] Thursday, and then had the show. You only see these things on television, so it was cool to be a part of this and actually be backstage. The guys weren’t frantic, but the girls were going crazy!”
Kessler agreed that participating in the show was a mix of charity and fun. “It was for a good cause and sounded like fun. It was a lot of fun and everyone got to wear great clothes by amazing designers,” she said.
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