On Wednesday, October 9 at Melrose Market Studios the fourth annual Runway to Freedom charity fashion show and live auction event was held to raise money for New Beginnings. New Beginnings is a support group for battered women and their children located in Seattle. This not-for-profit organization provides shelter and advocacy in addition to legal and therapy services. When I spoke with Anish Toloni of New Beginnings, she said they are most known for their legal services as they have a lawyer on staff who helps with legal issues including divorce, protection orders, and child custody.
Runway to Freedom is held every year to help support these services. This year’s event was full of jaw dropping fashion and fun surprises! The night kicked-off with an hour of music, drinks, and delicious treats like the chocolate Oreo cupcake I sampled from New York Cupcakes. Candles scattered the room. Girls were lining up to get a polish change and their photo taken by Mode Magazine. Tiffany Wilson’s beautiful voice, accompanied by an acoustic guitar, could be heard through out the room during her performance. Needless to say, the vibe circulating the room was definitely cozy and cool.
Karen Wild of 106.1 Kiss FM officially began the event by welcoming everyone and introducing a video featuring Lauren Grinell, producer of Runway to Freedom and owner of LaLa’s Cuts in Queen Anne. After the video presentation, Anish Toloni and Ricky Castellanos of New Beginnings spoke. Castellanos said, “Intimate partner violence harms not only individuals and families, but our entire community. The ripple effects are enormous, impacting children’s performance in school, work place productivity, healthcare costs, community economic stability… and it most definitely does not have to be this way. You can help by speaking out against abusive language and behavior.” Then it was time for fashion from Queen Anne Dispatch, Zebra Club, Mac House of Fashion, and Justin Zachary Bartle.
Queen Anne Dispatch’s looks were casual and perfect for a Seattle autumn, my favorite being a loose fitting high-low red flannel dress with suede cowboy boots. The looks from Zebra Club were very badass in an “I don’t have to try hard” kind of way, especially the fitted pant suit that could be worn out for some seriously fancy cocktails straight after kicking butt in the office all day. In-between sets, Danelle Hayes of American Idol and Jennifer Newberry performed a song written specially for the event.
Next up was Mac House of Fashion, which appeared to be a crowd favorite. The first look was a black sheer sleeveless dress with gold sparkles and a gold high-waisted sash. The kicker was when the model strutted to the end of the runway and all of us audience members were given a little surprise–exposed booty cheeks! Lots of booty in the Mac House of Fashion’s looks and trust me, nobody was complaining. A number of “yes mamas” along with lots of shouts and “work it girls” echoed through out the crowd.
The fashion show closed with wedding gowns by Justin Zachary Bartle. The models were fierce and certainly had the “smeyes” down. (Tyra Banks tip, smile with your eyes: smeyes).
To wrap up the evening a survivor’s story was depicted by Dakita Harris followed by a live auction. Harris shared a deeply moving story about herself and someone close to her. Tears filled her eyes and the eyes of audience members. Her aura was authentic and pure; “I was really nervous so I wrote something, but that’s not who I am so I’m just going to talk to you,” she said as the room fell silent. She shared intimate and personal information for those who were in attendance, however I would like to share some of her gained knowledge. Harris said, “That it’s okay to be down as long as you don’t stay there. To be a voice for those that can’t be a voice for themselves. I’ve been 1,000 different levels of crazy trying to figure out how to share this with all of you, but I’m hoping that me sacrificing my sanity blesses you in some way…I know that it’s because of places like New Beginnings and the resources and the services that they offer we don’t have any normal lives be we do have a new normalcy.”
Items were donated from Breathe Hot Yoga, Rich Kids Brand, Zulily, Rick Tooth Makeup, Paramount Theatre, LaLa’s Cuts and many more to be auctioned off. The most desired item appeared to be the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis package which included two tickets to any show, clothing, and a signed copy of The Heist. Prior to the event, Macklemore tweeted, “Check out @seattlehair’s event in Seattle tomorrow night @runwaytofreedom. It’s a fashion show and auction benefiting victims of domestic abuse.”
You’ve got to love Seattle unity!
Lauren Grinnell ended the night by thanking everyone for attending and working on the event, “Thank you so much to everyone that has helped in this show…everyone in this room…thank you so much because it means a lot to me,” she said.
Runway to Freedom raised over $2,000 to benefit New Beginnings.