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 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