The Junior League of San Francisco (JLSF) put on a phenomenal three-day fashion showcase extravaganza February 28 – March 2 in San Francisco. This event was truly remarkable from start to finish, from the beautiful decor, diverse program agenda, spotlights and exposure for local designers, to the fabulous featured fashion show. I was lucky enough to meet some of the incredible organizers, planners, board members, models, supporters and vendors over the course of the events and honored to witness the ins-and-outs of the JLSF Fashion Showcase.
The festivities began on Thursday afternoon with a benefactor preview party of the fashion boutique marketplace. Here, attendees were able to walk through the twenty-five hand selected local vendors from San Francisco and the Bay Area. With wine in hand, ticket holders had first pick on featured collections and merchandise with some of the proceeds benefiting JLSF. Each vendor had uniquely set up and decorated their large booth space, embodying the personality of their boutique and brand. The marketplace featured several retailers including Trina Turk, Viva Dress Up, Chubbies, Westward Leaning, Kirribilla, A. Anthony, Benefit, Stick & Ball, Heritage Row, and more.
As the afternoon faded away,the evening swept in for the White Nights on the Water cocktail party. The serene and elegantly ornamented Festival Pavilion venue at Fort Mason had whitened the night with white linen, curtains, lounges, lamps and even attendee attire. Guests were offered delicious hors d’oeuvres and cocktails while DJ Chris Clouse performed and the silent auction progressed. By the end of a very successful day one, excitement and enthusiasm filled the room to wake up the next morning for more events.
Friday morning began at 10 a.m. with daytime shopping in the marketplace. Guests were able to attend a seminar and interview series, called Fashion by the Book, featuring fashion industry leaders and insiders. After a busy day, the afternoon crowd cleared the room for a couple of hours until the big black-tie bang began in the evening. Gorgeous gowns and well -dressed men filled the room, and the Fashion Forward showcase set sail. Beginning with a live auction, a well entertained and interactive crowd seated around the runway stage was delighted to participate in raising money for JLSF. The money raised for the League, in turn helps to support and fundraise for their five community partner programs, and train volunteers who can help other nonprofits in our communities. We heard from great speakers such as Michelle Curtis Harris, the Fashion Show Chair, and Jennifer Johnston, JLSF President – but a special speech I’ll likely never forget came from Juanita Alvarado telling her life story, one of survival, thanks to the partner program SF Child Abuse Prevention Center and the training she received from JLSF. With a watery eye, I realized how extraordinary and impactful the doings of JLSF and their volunteers truly are.
The lights dimmed down, the music jolted, and cheers started as the 87th Annual JLSF Fashion Show began. JLSF members volunteering to be models, strut down the runway with sass, sophistication, and style. The runway featured designs by Athleta, Brooks Brothers, Janie and Jack, Jin Wang, Kirribilla, Trina Turk, and more – with a special feature for the Fashion Incubator San Francisco (FiSF).
As the new format to this year’s showcase and events, distinct thought and focus went in to celebrate and promote unique San Francisco designers. FiSF is a nonprofit helping local fashion school graduates to become successful business owners and entrepreneurs in the San Francisco fashion world. Designers in the year-long program are offered workspace, equipment, guidance and business operation training as they design their own collections – many already offered for sale. The JLSF Fashion Show disguised as the six FiSF designers’ “graduation ceremony”, as their unique and unbelievable designs were featured on the runway. It was great to see a local organization like FiSF featured in the fashion show, celebrating the creative minds and emerging stardom of young entrepreneurs from San Francisco. The 87th Fashion Show was truly well done, fun and entertaining, featuring fashion forward men and women, models, and Junior League members. The night still had more in store for the guests, as gourmet desserts, cigar rolling, and cocktails commenced with a live band and dancing.
After such a festive and fun two days, the fashion showcase even continued onto the next day. Saturday morning again began with available marketplace vendor shopping, but this time with a twist! Toss Boutique featured Mimosas & Monograms until mid-afternoon, and the day included many activities for the whole family. From fire trucks to the Nestle Bunny, the Fort Mason Festival Pavilion was filled with kid-friendly fun. Finally to top it all off, the fashion showcase ended on the cutest note of all – a daytime runway Children’s Fashion Show. The children of JLSF members charmed the crowd and runway wearing designs by Janie and Jack.
The Junior League of San Francisco deserves a blasting round of applause and much more for putting on this fantastic three-day fashion forward commemoration. The annual event did a great job highlighting their hard working volunteers, JLSF’s impact within San Francisco and local Bay Area communities, small business owners and entrepreneurs, and the five community programs JLSF donates all their fundraising and support towards. Be sure to learn more about the Junior League of San Francisco and how you can be involved.