Spring 2009

Fashionable Passion

Sometimes, fashion takes a back seat. We’re busy! We have more immediate, urgent things on our minds! Who has time to read Marie Claire or to really take the time to shop for new clothes that freshen up our wardrobes when the kids need mommy, the office is calling, we volunteered to help again, we should really be at the gym? I’m not talking about replacing your favorite worn-out black pencil skirt. I’m talking about exploring the possibilities and trying something new.

Two events this spring can be your excuse. First, in March, there’s RAGS, the wearable art show and gallery that has taken place every year for the past 15 years at Larson’s Mercedes- Benz of Tacoma in Fife. And what’s your excuse to shop RAGS? Proceeds from the event directly benefit the YWCA Pierce County’s domestic violence prevention and intervention programs. So it’s really about strengthening your community, even more than it is about freshening up your wardrobe.

It starts on Thursday, March 12, with a ticketed evening gala where there’s shopping, schmoozing, hors d’oeuvres by local restaurants, and wine. Friday through Sunday, the event is open to everyone free of charge. You’ll find unusual clothing, tons of jewelry, handbags, scarves, leggings and socks, hats, baby clothes… The event is literally a celebration of fashion and art. Last year, the RAGS Guild presented the YWCA with a check for $85,000—the largest RAGS contribution ever—thanks to the passion of hundreds of local women and men who shopped the weekend-long sale.

And here’s why you can feel good about taking the time to shop and the money to spend: The YWCA uses the money to fund programs that help young girls avoid violence in their relationships. The proceeds help women remove themselves and their children from violence in their homes. Your contribution, on top of the fact that you’re bringing home a handmade, one-of-a-kind necklace and earrings, is helping families heal after violence has torn their lives apart. The YWCA’s shelter, legal services and other support services are sometimes all a woman has between unbearable violence and basic safety.

RAGS is run completely by volunteers and features artists from the region and from around the country. The criteria—among other things—is that the artists must design and fabricate the items they sell themselves. The show is juried every year by local arts professionals—artists, curators, gallery owners, designers—and the artists contribute a portion of their proceeds to the YWCA. “People who have attended RAGS for years know that they can expect to find something new each year, and that they can find some of their favorite artists here as well,” says Kathy Dorr, RAGS co-chair.

Your second excuse to indulge your passion for fashion is with the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium’s Fashion Luncheon. This year we can expect a fabulous ocean-themed luncheon along with what event organizers are tantalizingly calling “theatrics.” Held at the Emerald Queen I-5 Showroom in Tacoma on April 18th at 1 pm, this event is not your typical fashion show. For one thing, some of the models are zookeepers. And last year, they sashayed down the runway accompanied by iguanas, kookaburras, bats, and even snakes! Other models, sans exotic zoo animals, include board and Zoo Society members, city leaders, Zoobilee volunteers, and event sponsors. Each year, some forty models grace the runway wearing fashions from Nordstrom plus sixteen local shops and boutiques.

Highlights of the event, which is now in its twelfth year, are the silent and live auctions. Past auction items have included special trips and experiences, one-on-one opportunities with zoo staff and curators, behind-the-scenes tours of the zoo, home décor packages, and original art. This year, auction items will reflect the event’s oceans theme.

This event, according to Meleea Russell, events manager for the Zoo Society, typically raises $45,000 to $50,000, an amount she says is significant to the Society’s work. “The Zoo Society exists and we’re able to do what we do to continue education and conservation efforts at the zoo because of events like this one,” says Russell.

In conjunction with the senior staff of Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, the Zoo Society works to carefully select projects that support conservation initiatives most pressing to the global community and that relate to the zoo’s animal collection. So by simply enjoying a glass of wine, lunch, and a mid-day fashion show, you’re supporting clouded leopard DNA analysis, the molecular reconstruction of the wild red wolf pedigree, and gibbon conservation in Thai zoos, among other projects. And there’s your multi-tasking for the month!

Tickets and more information on the Zoo’s Fashion Luncheon can be found at www.thezoosociety.org or at 253.404.3633

Passion has found its match at the end of the season at Olympia Symphony’s annual event by the same name Fashion Passion: Chocolate Brown & Champagne Chic.

A fabulous evening of gorgeous fashion, stunning jewelry, and of course, shopping!

Proceeds from the event support the Olympia Symphony Orchestra’s mission to provide the highest quality live music to enrich, educate, and entertain an expanding audience.

Kristy Gledhill

RAGS Mercedes Benz of Tacoma in Fife
4001 20th St East, Fife
Thursday, March 12
Gala: 6 pm – 9 pm
Friday and Saturday, March 13 and 14, 10 am – 6 pm
Sunday, March 15: 10 am – 4 pm
Gala tickets and info: 253.272.4181, ext 352

Zoo Society Fashion Luncheon
Emerald Queen I-5 Showroom
2024 East 29th St., Tacoma
Saturday, Aril 11
Patrons: 12:30 pm
General public: 1 pm
Tickets and info: 253.404.3633

Olympia Symphony Fashion Show
Fashion Passion: Chocolate Brown & Champagne Chic
Red Lion Hotel Olympia
2300 Evergreen Park Drive, Olympia
Thursday, May 21
5 pm – 8:30 pm
Tickets and info: 360. 753.0074

Fashionably Yours

Story Telling Clothes

In 1989 I saw New York for the first time via an exclusive tour of the city’s garment district. I was a college student majoring in fashion and taking the trip for credit. We toured designer showrooms, watched colorists at work, attended fashion shows, and even enjoyed a private showing of the Met’s costume archives. And of course we fashion merchandising students, having arrived in mecca, shopped and coveted and fondled the merchandise and all but drooled over the textures, the lines, the fabrics, the workmanship, the colors, the possibilities!

Now at the risk of sounding cliché, I have to tell you that I had an epiphany in New York. It hit me one day as a classmate and I were conducting our study of department store window merchandising: The clothing we wear tells our story.

That may not seem that profound, perhaps, but as a small-town girl who’d always been fascinated with fashion, but had never thought about why, I understood it that day on more than one level. Today, I think about those levels according to these three principles:

Through the things with which we choose to adorn ourselves, we express who we are. I have a friend who is perhaps the most observant person I’ve known. She pays particularly close attention to clothing, accessories, and hairdos. She told me one day that she sees a “definite rocker chick” vein in my style, even though the clothes she mainly saw me wear at that time were suits and dresses—work clothes. I could have hugged her, because yes, I have always loved the idea of juxtaposing a black concert t-shirt and pearls under a tailored jacket, bad motorcycle boots with the right suit, a cashmere sweater over ripped jeans.

I have another friend whose outfits are always an inspiration: Crisp and colorful, imaginatively accessorized, perfect for her coloring and shape. I complimented her overall style one evening over a glass of wine and she got all teary. She explained that while she was growing up, she’d never had anything nice to wear, the other kids made fun of her clothes, and she was always ashamed. “We were dirt poor,” she’d said. Once she’d started to make her own money and could afford fabulous clothing, she vowed to always look her best, no matter what. To her, clothing is a way to express her feelings of accomplishment, satisfaction with a good and happy life, her ability to make her own way.

Each day, we wear something that we use to help others understand how we feel. I have a particular outfit—black cardigan, embroidered blouse, black pants—that I love to wear. One day when I was scheduled to be a guest on a local TV talk show, a co-worker pointed out, “You know, everyone’s going to start thinking that’s the only outfit you own.” She explained that she’d noticed I wear it every time I’m on TV. Well, it makes me feel comfortable doing something I’m not always that comfortable doing, I’d offered. “We get it,” she replied.

My aunt tells the story of a favorite pair of cowboy boots she used to wear when she ran a trucking company in Montana. She wore them when she wanted to feel more confident, when she had to be powerful. It got to the point where the people she worked with would hear the boots coming and hide.

Another former co-worker of mine with the most effervescent personality wears vibrant colors and has an uncanny ability to match them almost perfectly to her moods. On days when she’s noticeably more circumspect, quieter, she’s wearing purple—still a vibrant hue of purple, but a marked difference from yesterday’s ebullient orange and yellow. I love to see her coming, and to guess how I’ll find her feeling today.

And finally, It’s interesting to observe the way we dress to express where we feel we belong. One day, driving back to my job at the museum, I spotted a group of my co-workers walking to lunch, all of them chic and dressed head to toe in black. I drove up, rolled down my window, and asked, “Hey, do you guys work in a museum?”

I always love to note how different members of a group interpret the group’s identity and values through their clothing. The other day I saw four high-school girls walking home from school. Clearly, their fashion choices were influenced by a teen sensibility, and I probably creeped them out a little bit by gawking at how each of them had dressed and accessorized, died her hair a particular shade of black, experimented until she’d gotten her eyeliner just right.

To see such powers of expression at work every day is fascinating, and I think it makes people more loveable. We may not be writing poetry or composing symphonies, sculpting masterpieces or painting murals: We’re expressing ourselves in what I think is a more personal, changeable, mobile way. And whether you’re going for rocker chick, dressed-for-success or you’re just trying to cowboy up, you’ve created your own personal brand of those identities. In the words of my co-worker, “We get it.”

Kristy Geldhill