Burlington-Style

Part of what attracts so many prospective students to UVM is undoubtedly the vi-brant city of Burlington and its distinctive feel. Fashion, however, doesn’t usually come to mind when students think of the attractions in Burling-ton. After this past weekend, that could change. At the ONE Fashion Event at Higher Ground on Saturday, Jan. 27, it became clear that Burlington does know what fashion is re-ally about: unique, visionary style. Every week, tons of cultur-al events take place through-out Burlington. But for stu-dents, it can be hard to know which ones are worth a foray into the cold night, the has-sle of a cab ride or a steeply priced ticket. Since this event was to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Burlington (BGCB), tickets were $35 each. Under-standably, this cost would be a deterrent for many college pocketbooks. Also barring stu-dents’ abilities to attend was the 21-plus age restriction. But although this particu-lar event may not have been the most compatible with typ-ical student life, it would have been well worth it for any stu-dent to go. The event exposed the definitive characterstic of the often inarticulable “Burl-ington feel”: a healthy, dynam-ic, accepting community. “This event doesn’t com-pare to anything else we’ve ever done,” organizer and BGCB Director of Develop-ment Sara Wool said. Having been to only one other “fashion show” in my life, I wasn’t sure what to expect of The ONE Fashion Event. When I was 16, I trav-eled to Mexico City and hap-pened to stay at a hotel that was hosting a fashion show while I was there. It was a par-ty. Beautiful people, champagne every-where, loud music and the lights … the lights did some-thing to me. So what would a benefit fashion show at Higher Ground entail? Would there be beautiful people, campagne, music and crazy lights? We entered the Showcase Lounge at 7:30 p.m. and min-gled with an audience made up of mostly middle-aged community members, moms and dads, fashionistas, and kids from the BGCB. Half an hour later the event opened with a welcom-ing from Wool on behalf of the Club. A non-profit that serves local youth and their families, the BGCB was founded in 1942 and belongs to the umbrella organization of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Ac-cording to the local Club, the greater Burlington area had 1,850 BGCB members in 2005. Membership is obtained through an annual $5 fee, or else a scholarship, which pro-vide access to Club sponsored community “life-skills activi-ties.” By serving so many kids, the club plays an integral role in the larger Burlington social fabric. Wool then turned the spot-light over to South Burlington High teacher and the enchant-ing emcee for the show, Bill Price. In addition to knowing many of the people involved in the show, Price addressed the audience like a crowd of good friends, setting the amiable, personal tone of the event. The fashion show featured clothing from local stores and designers Almir, Burton, Ecco, Expressions, Made, Mendy’s, Michael Kehoe and North Face, in addition to Club kids’ creations out of recycled fab-rics and garmets. The pieces displayed on the makeshift runway blended panache with practicality, em-bracing the Burlington spirit of cooperation, sustainability and creativity. The original ensembles ranged from eve-ning dresses to snow gear, and would be in perfeect harmony with any Burlington surround-ings. The models themselves contributed to the decidedly fun atmosphere by making the show more about people than clothes. Models included the BGCB kids and staff, em-ployees and associates of the businesses involved, and their friends. Amanda Northrop was one such friend, with some experi-ence modeling professionally. “This was a lot of fun,” she said of Saturday’s show. “Ev-eryone kind of hammed it up because it was more relaxed than other events that I’ve done.” One of the male models of the evening was Levar Bar-rino, Athletic and Health Di-rector at BGCB, whose trips down the catwalk were greet-ed by especially uproarious applause from the Club youth in the VIP balcony. “The kids were very excited, they’ve been preparing for this for about a month and a half…This was the perfect fit for the Boys and Girls Club,” Barrino said of the new event. The ONE Fashion Event is hoping to become an an-nual occurrence. The $5,000 matching donation goal was reached by the time the show ended, totaling over $10,000 of accrued funds for the BGCB that night. “This is our first younger, kind of funkier event,” said Wool while taking a break from her social responsibili-ties on the dancefloor after the show. “We want younger people that can help carry on support for the kids.”