Story by Huntress. Photography by Gordon Ho.
Girl power emanated from the Forte charity fashion show benefiting Gilda’s Club NYC Wednesday night. Project Runway finalist Kenley Collins presented her never-before-seen Spring/Summer 2010 collection, along with other designers—Sheila Frank, Elizabeth Rynish, and Marissa Erskine—all members of the Seam Collective (seamcollective.com), an alliance of women dedicated to promoting the advancement of female fashion.
Indeed “chic power” was apparent as Kenley Collins’ collection, “inspired by American heroine Amelia Earhart” launched the show. Hairpieces, one-piece swimsuits and printed floral dresses worn by the models harkened back to the roaring 20’s. “The Charleston” played in the background. Gentle lyrics (i.e. “Sweet Carolina”) in the song and the delicate nature of the clothing itself— lace and flowers—suggested that women could be feminine and sweet, yet heroic and adventurous, like Earhart, Collins’ inspiration.
Bulb-like green and pink skirts and fluttering-shouldered shirts permeated designer Marissa Erskine’s clothing. Creations conjured up images of tulips and butterflies, perfect for a lady in sweet spring. Designer Elizabeth Rynish’s fluorescent-swirled 60’s inspired dresses were more psychedelic than Erskine’s nature-themes designs. Still, the belted waists of Rynish’s dresses provided a prim, pulled-together look that contrasted the chaotic, swirled print of her fabric, making the dresses “lady-like.”
Sheila Frank’s collection diverted from “prim and proper” as models strutted to Peaches’ rock tune “The Boys want to Be Her.” Loud music, along with chain detailing, and grey hued-fabric provided a tough-chic dichotomy to the more classically feminine collections of the other designers. All collections, were unique and suggested power to women.
The show raised money for Gilda’s Club New York City, a charity that “creates welcoming communities of free support for everyone living with cancer– men, women, teens and children— along with their families and friends.” Gilda’s Club is named after Gilda Ratner, a brilliant comedian and one of the original cast members on Saturday Night Live, who learned to live with cancer with the help of a support community. The idea of Gilda’s Club is that no one should face cancer alone.
Hence, it seems fitting that the Forte charity fashion show was a cohesion of female identity. The majority of the audience was female, fashions were women’s, gift bags were pink and sweet Godiva chocolates spread throughout the room satisfied a girl’s sweet tooth. Even the description of Fevertree’s Bitter Lemon beverage (a Sprite-like beverage mixed with vodka at the show) sounded like a woman’s bath product. “Natural botanicals” and the “sophisticated” taste of “natural quinine” was lingo on the label of the drink. A female-empowerment theme would not be complete without a reminder of the natural cycle given to women by Mother Earth. Hence, a discreet pink box of “Moxie Slenders” maxi- pads was mixed in with certificates, lotions, and general goody-bag knick-knacks.