Anna Palmer & Christine Rizk, co-founders of Fashion Project
Last night, I was honored to be among Boston’s stylish set for the launch of Fashion Project. My friends, Anna Palmer and Christine Rizk, founded Fashion Project (formerly known as Swapfish), with the mission of using your closet to change lives. The service is incredibly simple, useful and charitable: donate closet items you no longer wear and support an amazing charity. To make it even easier, Fashion Project will send you a box for your items and you simply fill it up and send it back. They then photograph the items, post them on their website and people buy them. Once an item is purchased, Fashion Project takes 40% and passes along the other 60% to the charity. Cleaning out your closet has never felt so good!
The website is dependent on high-quality donations and makes brands like Louis Vuitton, Kate Spade, Burberry and Armani accessible at pretty amazing price points.
Fashion Project's Louis Vuitton Thompson Street Bag
Take for example this adorable yellow Louis Vuitton shoulder bag. Retail price over $1000, gently used and yours for under $400. Now that is a bargain. Add on the fact that $238 of your bargain goes to support Northeast Arc, the leader provider of life-long services for families and individuals with developmental disabilities. That’s pretty awesome.
Innovation Economy blogger, Scott Kirsner, featured Fashion Project as “a way to make donated couture work harder” in his article covering the company a few weeks ago. I couldn’t agree more. I am guilty of packing up beautiful items from my closet and sending them off to donation – often unsure as to where they really end up and who they really help. Fashion Project makes it easy to see your direct impact on a charity and is such a feel-good blend of shopping (for us shop-a-holics) and do good (for us wanna-make-a-difference people) that I know they are on to huge success as they evolve the charitable giving space.
I had a blast at the launch party last night and donated a gorgeous black Theory blazer (retail: $400) that I never wear because my office life is super-casual. Cannot wait to see it up on the Fashion Project site and know that it will go to a great new home and help make someone else’s life better at the same time.
Thanks to friend, fellow fashionista, and new CMO at Fashion Project, Michelle McCormack, for organizing an amazing launch event at the ever-so-hip, Cafeteria on Newbury. As producer of Boston’s Fashion Night Out she’ll be incorporating Fashion Project in the festivities. Mark your calendars for Sept. 6th for some great events in and around the city.
Now it’s time to sign up and start your Fashion Project donations…man, the fashion business is fun.
My frock is ready. My 9yr old fashionista insisted on providing wardrobe assistance. She picked the dress and we worked on the shoes. She said, and I quote, “Hm, it’s a bit of a color jumble but I think you can pull it off.” Phew…
Now on to the important stuff. My last but not least interview. Bryan Finocchio is the mastermind behind the Catwalk events And is founder and passionate leader at Open HeARTS, Inc. I’m honored to know Bryan and his team and continue to love their combo plate of do good stuff with being stylish and having fun. Bryan told me a bit about tonight’s SOLD OUT Catwalk for BMC Cancer Care and why he’s all pumped up.
Me: What makes the Catwalk for BMC Cancer Care so special to you?
Bryan: This Catwalk is our first partnered event as well as Catwalk’s first event as Open HeARTS, Inc., which makes this show special to us. Not to mention that this is Boston Medical Center’s Cancer Care Center’s inaugural event. Lots of pressure!!
Me: Why did the folks at BMC decide a catwalk event with Open HeARTS was the way to generate buzz and money for their cause?
Bryan:Good question! When they heard about past Catwalk Events and how they a run, I think they wanted to pursue the idea. I guess I give a good pitch. When I sat down with BMC to talk about what a Catwalk Event is and how we incorporate survivors into our show as well as developing talent in the area, they seemed sold. Catwalk Events are unique in the fact that we take pride in our survivors and incorporating “real” people as well as models in our events. It’s something different that an organization can call its own.
Me: What can people attending expect to see?
Bryan: Like any Catwalk Event, attendees will experience a silent auction, fashion show and post reception. Our fashion show this years will include designers as well as a stylist, something new for a Catwalk Event. We also decided to represent the comprehensive types of cancer BMC treats by assigning each designer a color to represent a ribbon. Although not every cancer is represented, we want to give viewers a fun, summertime show complete with an array of colors symbolizing the “melting pot” of cultures and treatments BMC is known for.
Me: How does partnering with BMC expand the mission of Open HeARTS?
Bryan: One part of Open HeARTS’ mission is to work with area organizations, corporate businesses and nonprofits creating events. The chance to work with BMC helps expand our efforts in planning elaborate events for a cause. By working with BMC, we are also able to take developing artists, in this case Fashion Designers, and give them a platform to show their work to a large audience, essentially fulfilling the second part of Open HeARTS’ mission.
Me:What will you be wearing? (of course:)
Bryan: I am too busy planning to think about what I am wearing! I would assume either J?Crew, H&M or a mixture of both!
I’m sure you will look fabulous and will be glowing tomorrow night, Bryan. Great work and can’t wait for the show!
Designer Candice Wu
Counting down the days until the models take the runway for the Catwalk for BMC Cancer Care event on Thursday, June 28th. The fun part for me, other than the excitement of the actual evening, is being able to go behind the scenes and bring you a taste of who some of the great people are that make the event possible.
I promised to give you a look inside some of the fashion designers who will be sending their creations out on the runway. Meet Candice Wu. Candice was born in Hong Kong and moved to the United States at 17 to pursue her dream of being a fashion designer. Candice made that dream come true and graduated from the Boston School of Fashion Design and now runs her own design business.
What I love about Candice’s designs is that they you can feel her cultural influences come through in the patterns, fabrics, appliques and colors. She told me she loves to blend traditional elements with modern ideas when creating her pieces and that definitely shines through. Candice does it all when it comes to designing and producing her fashions. She sketches, creates patterns, sews, drapes, beads and fabricates all of her one-of-a-kind pieces and it’s no surprise that she won the honor of the 2012 Boston Fashion Award.
From the Candice Wu 'Esoteric' Collection
I had the opportunity to talk to Candice a bit about her involvement in the Catwalk for BMC Cancer Care. She’s no new-comer to events like this as she’s been participating in Bryan Finocchio’s Catwalk events (now Open HeARTS Inc) for three years now. She’s happy to be back to share her design inspiration with patients, survivors and all the great people coming to the event. Candice describes her design approach as mixing beauty and function together. I love her recent collection – Esoteric – as it is just that. There are great jackets and blouses for work attire and throw in some great leather pants or shorts and you’re ready to hit the town. I love the rock and roll, edgy feel of the collection and have a wish list together already. I asked Candice what she likes best about being a fashion designer and she said:
“I have two best parts if that’s okay. One is when an idea pops into my head, and I am able to make it into reality, that feeling is very satisfying and fulfilling. The second is when other people like my designs…it makes all the hard work worthwhile.”
Candice says that she sees the bright and bold color trend continuing into Fall and that she’ll, most likely, be wearing pink next Thursday. I’m a big fan of Candice’s work. I love how she combines her cultural influences with feminine, functional and beautiful pieces that are unique and bold. Candice’s collection will be featured at this Thursday’s Catwalk for BMC Cancer Care. I hope you can join me in looking fashionable while supporting a great cause. (UPDATE: Sadly, tickets are sold out for the event, but if you really really want to come, email me as they might open up more tickets and I can see what I can do.)
I had a chance to talk with Holt Murray, Senior Cause Marketing Officer at Boston Medical Center about the upcoming (Thursday June 28th) Catwalk for BMC Cancer Care. It is exciting to see a top-tier medical institution like BMC parterning with my friends at Open HeARTS to make raising money for cancer services and overall awareness fun and fashionable.
What’s kind of small world but big universe about all of this is the fact that Twitter played a major role in connecting me with Holt (probably at least a year ago, totally random and completely unrelated to Open HeARTS) and Twitter played a major role in connecting Holt with Bryan Finocchio, President & Founder of Open HeARTS, because of last year’s amazing Catwalk for a Cure event to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Love the power of social media making new connections and spurring new ideas.
Q&A with Holt Murray
Me: So, tell me, how did BMC get involved with Bryan and the Open HeARTS team?
Holt: I use Twitter quite a bit for work (events, leads, etc.) and had followed Bryan while he was doing the Catwalk for a Cure to benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure. After the event was over, I contacted Bryan on Twitter and we met to discuss a partnership between our two organizations. It seemed natural to have a Catwalk event (since that is in Bryan’s wheelhouse of expertise) to benefit BMC’s Cancer Care Center, which is located in the Moakley building at BMC.
Me: Has BMC done an event like this before? If not, what prompted you to do the Catwalk event?
Holt: BMC executes many events such as our annual BMC Gala (which raised over $2.2 M this past May), our annual golf event in July and the Mayo Bowl (Patriots’ Defensive Captain Jerod Mayo’s charity event benefiting BMC happening on September 10, 2012). On average we execute 7-9 events large and small designed to benefit BMC programs. Up to this point, we have never had a cancer-specific fundraising event and given the number of cancer patients we serve and the level of complexity of the cases, we really needed to create something unique to raise awareness and funds.
Me: Tell me about your goals for the event and how Open HeARTS plays into meeting those goals.
Holt: BMC has a very specific role in the community and our cancer care services are no exception. We provide superb cancer care to the residents of Boston who are most at risk and least likely to receive the care that all cancer patients deserve. Because of who we serve, I would argue that no other hospital so routinely goes the extra mile to ensure that patients are getting the care they need. Everything from providing rides to treatment, arranging for interpreters or child care, or scheduling appointments and coordinating treatment plans so that patients miss as little work (and wages) as possible. Catwalk will raise the visibility of BMC and there is no better partner to help us do this than Bryan Finnochio of Open Hearts. He is passionate about cancer care and helping BMC promote all the good that we are doing. Much of Bryan’s passion comes from his “other” job as a Registered Nurse! He brings his commitment to healthcare and passion for fashion together for these Catwalk events. He’s an impressive guy all the way around and we’re lucky to be working with him.
Me: Will patients/survivors be participating in the event? Tell me how.
Holt: Definitely! Great question…we wouldn’t have it any other way. We’ll have patients IN the fashion show itself and patients will also be attending the event. A great number of employees of the Cancer Care Center will be in the audience cheering on our patients. For many of our patients, the caregivers at BMC are “family.” For our caregivers, the feeling is mutual.
Me: How does BMC view the Catwalk event as a way to raise awareness and money for cancer care services?
Holt: These funds will not go to research, but to services for our cancer patients and for the great facility at BMC. National and local celebrities will be playing key roles in the event which helps raise the profile. These celebrities, along with the designers, their networks and Bryan’s networks, will attract a new audience for us. At the event, we will take just a few moments to educate everyone about how BMC is special. However, having the patients and their caregivers walking in the show will tell it all. Each patient has a story and these stories together create the BMC story and I can attest to the fact that is one like no other.
2011 Catwalk for a Cure Runway (courtesy Nick Mandella Photography)
Me: What excites you most about the event?
Holt: That we have six designers donating their time and expertise to us and creating unique styles specifically for this event and their patient/survivor runway models. I’m equally excited by the idea that this is the inaugural event for a to-be annual event for the Cancer Care Center. Having the chance to highlight (through this event and in this breathtaking location high atop 60 State Street) the incredible work done in the Moakley Building is akin to asking me to brag about all that is good and forward thinking at Boston Medical Center.
Me: And, the most important question, what and who will you be wearing??
Holt: Tux (I think, definitely a tux. I believe RL Polo).
Me: Holt, that will be a definite upgrade from the puffy vest…but we love you anyway. Can’t take the fashion critic out of the girl.
We can all use a great excuse to dust off an old party dress, buy a new party dress or just show up looking like you’re ready to party. So get your tickets for the Catwalk for BMC Cancer Care before all the fashionable people in Boston have scooped them up —> BUY TICKETS HERE!
Look for my upcoming posts where I’ll interview some of the fashion designers you’ll meet at the event! Stay tuned….
Looking for a stylish way to support a great cause? Join me and the awesome folks from Open HeARTS on Thursday June 28, 2012 for the Catwalk for BMC Cancer Care. Boston Medical Center (BMC) has partnered up with with my friends Bryan, Nick and the team at Open HeARTS, Inc. to host fashion show to benefit Cancer Care Services. It’s the first BMC fashion show and it’s great to see local organizations working together to do something fun, fashionable and charitable. The event will feature local celebrities and artists, BMC staff, patients, survivors, a silent auction, free gifts, hors d’oeuvres and cocktails.
I’m very excited to see the runway full of creations from these amazing designers. I’ll be profiling a few of them over the next few weeks to get you ready for the main event.
When: 7-11p.m., Thursday, June 28 2012
Where: The State Room at 60 State Street Boston
How: Tickets are $100 and available at www.openheartsinc.org
See you there!
What are you doing on Weds May 9th? Would you love to enjoy an evening of art, philanthropy and fashion? Yeah…I thought so:)
I’ve been following Bryan Finocchio, of Boston Catwalk for a Cure fame and overall amazing, compassionate and creative guy, as he founded OpenHeARTS, a non-profit organization dedicated to organizing events that combine art, the surrounding community and philanthropy. Doesn’t get much better than that! The OpenHeARTS launch event is being held next Weds May 9 at the super-fabulous W hotel at 100 Stuart Street in Boston’s Theater District. The event is the prelude to the OpenHeARTS June fashion show and will feature fashion inspiration by designer JacquelineQuinn, hair by Salon Acote, makeup by Joanna Petit-Frere and accessories by Stella &Dot Jewelry. Tickets are a bargain at $20 and include music, dancing and hors d’ oeuvres.
Jacqueline Quinn 2012 Collection
I continue to be impressed with Bryan, Nick, Neira and the rest of the OpenHeARTS team and their commitment and pursuit of amazing causes that combine arts, fashion and entertainment…all while doing something really good (and fun) for the local community.
Get your tickets here!
Look forward to a great event and now…
…to decide…what to wear…
See you at the Launch!
With the ever-so-talented and stylish, Wesley Nault
Still basking in the light of last week’s 2nd Annual Catwalk for a Cure. I am honored to be a media sponsor and to have the opportunity to work with passionate, organized and professional people like Bryan and Nick, meet the amazing designers, like Wesley Nault and capture the spirit of survivors like Marybeth Fratus.
It was amazing to capture the models from the end of the runway – I told Marta, my ever so stylish +1 for the evening, that I felt like a kid in a candystore. The shoes, the fabrics, the talent, the strength, the pride – it was all so touching and overwhelming.
I was proud to have my girls there to support me – Lisa, Stacey, Diane, Marta, Julie – you guys are amazing! I am already looking forward to next year and have lots of ideas for the team.
Want to see all the pictures? Check them out on The Stylish Eye Facebook fan page – become a fan too…stay up to date on the latest trends and style happenings about town!
Continuing my series on the designers who are making Catwalk for a Cure the style event of the season…I introduce Julie Montesion a local designer based in Natick, MA. Her collection carries her namesake, Julie Montesion, and is an amazing designer of evening, bridal and special occasion dresses. Cannot WAIT to see what she cooks up for us on Thursday night…hope to see you there and thanks, Julie, for your inspiration and dedication to fashion for a great cause!
And now, meet Julie Montesion…
Tell me about yourself. How did you get involved in Catwalk for a Cure? Why is this event important to you?
I am a self-taught freelance designer who specializes in special occasion/formal wear. This is my second year designing for Catwalk For A Cure. I got involved in 2010 because I was looking for a creative way to help raise money for cancer awareness. The event is important to me because I lost my grandmother to cancer in 2008. This is a way for me to honor her memory and to help raise money to one day find a cure.
What is your design philosophy? How does your creative process work as you’re designing new pieces?
I think fashion should be fun. I like a lot of color and my designs express that. It is classic styles with a flirty twist.
How did you work with the cancer survivors to design the pieces they will be wearing next week?
One of my models is currently fighting cancer and undergoing treatment. We worked together to make sure that the style was something that she would feel comfortable in. I moved up the necklines of some garments, added straps to hide bandages and incorporated silk scarves to add some modesty to the dresses.
Julie Montesion "Terri" Dress
How did you get started in design? What words of wisdom would you share with aspiring designers?
I got started in design and formal wear when I was high school. I would make custom prom dresses for all my friends. I would tell any aspiring designers to not give up and to keep at it. It is hard at times but also very rewarding.
What is one style trend for Fall you love?
I love the tie-neck blouses that have made a comeback this season.
What can the stylish guests expect to see from you at the event?
They can expect a really fun show with lots of sparkle!
What is your biggest accomplishment as a designer? And, what’s next?
Creating a wedding dress for a bride is always a big accomplishment for me. It’s a huge honor to share in someone’s special day and to be a part of their life changing event. Up next for me is my own wedding! I’ll be busy designing and making bridesmaid dresses for my 2012 wedding.
Being a media partner for this year’s Catwalk for a Cure has been inspirational in so many ways. I’ve had the chance to get the inside scoop on the creative process and what makes the show such a special event for everyone who attends. I wanted to share the story of Wesley Nault, creative director/owner of an inspirational collection of his own namesake, Wesley Nault. Wesley had the honor of being chosen for Season 5 of Project Runway (one of my fave shows!) and is based in one of the fashion mecca’s of the world, New York City.
Wesley is a featured designer at Catwalk for a Cure – just a few days away on Thursday October 13th at the ever-so-glam State Room in downtown Boston. Tickets are still available (get ‘em here) and I hope to see you there!
And without further adieu, I introduce Wesley Nault – his story in his words.
“I moved to New York to pursue a career in fashion at the age of 18. I was formally trained at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Fast forward a few years, and after spending a year working for Marc Jacobs, I was ready to break out on my own landing a spot on the 5th Season of the Emmy Award winning show, Project Runway in 2008. Although my “auf wiedersehen” came early, I said “guten tag” to countless exciting opportunities, everything from uniforms for the new Yankee Stadium and becoming a spokes person for Brother International, to vegetable dresses and superhero and showgirl costumes. In 2010, I won GEN ART’s New Garde grant with a fellow contestant from the Project Runway and together we showed a widely received collection that was hosted by Molly Sims. Later that year marked the launch of my namesake collection, Wesley Nault, which is currently in its third season.
When Bryan Finocchio, founder and director of Catwalk for a Cure, first reached out to me about participating in this year’s event, I could not have been more eager. Originally from Massachusetts myself, I would not be where I am today with out the support from all of my family and friends. And getting involved with Catwalk for a Cure meant I could finally give back to the community that has supported me all these years in a greater way… for a cause.
The easy part of designing for me is inspiration. I am inspired by everything! You just have to look outside of what something is supposed to be and see it for what it could become. But as the design process starts, it becomes a constant tug of war, a battle between hard and soft. Eventually, I find a middle ground that balances the two, but the road to it is sometimes a grueling one. There is so much emotion that goes into each piece I design, between the hints of inspiration and attention to detail and finishing. By the time I finish a piece, we have gone through a roller coaster of highs and lows. But at the end of the day, when I take a moment to breathe, I look around… and my creatively chaotic, too small, too cold, too expensive studio becomes a world full of beautiful things that I dreamed and sketched and designed and sewed and I just breathe it in… and its euphoric… because it is those moments I can see my past, present and future coming together and any doubts or what ifs don’t matter, because for that moment everything is beautiful again.
Wesley Nault Collection
I started designing during those awkward days in middle school. Growing up in a relatively small town, I didn’t have a lot of access to what you would consider “high-fashion,” so I was dead set on making it myself. Whatever I could get my hands on, I would push it through that sewing machine. I did a lot of deconstructing and reconstructing in those days. And I am so thankful for those experimental years, learning how things were put together by ripping them apart and really getting to know the sewing machine.
My best advice for aspiring designers is to first remember that the fashion industry is just that, an INDUSTRY. You really have to love it because the glamorous moments of photo shoots and fashion shows seam few and far between at times, especially with the countless, sleepless nights.
One could compare the Project Runway experience to an obscure sleep away camp… bunking together with new found friends, and foes, for a month and a half while every moment of every day is chaperoned, filmed, photographed and logged, with the added bonus of hyper competition mode. That set is a TENSE, TINY, HOT space. Did I mention TENSE. Oh and HOT. Who new mic packs could pick up sounds from the central air when its on? Thank G*d for my short shorts. Overall though, it was an amazing, exciting experience. It has really pushed me to come into myself as a designer since then.
Trends for Fall… Python seems to be the exotic skin du jour. Also among my favs, Navaho prints and palettes/sequins.
Welsey Nault Collection
I will be showing my Spring 2012 collection at Catwalk for a Cure, which I just debuted at New York Fashion Week in September. The collection is entitled The Annunciation of the Virgin, and was my first solo presentation under my name sake collection. The theme parallels works of art by the same title during the Renaissance and Baroque periods when the Arch Angel Gabriel ascended the Heavens to announce the Virgin Mary with child. Both gowns in the collection represent the majors players in the subject matter. The white gown representing Gabriel’s ascendance through the clouds and the beaded gown creating a three dimensional halo of embellishment, evoking the halo depicted in such works surrounding the Madonna. Black leather lilies stud and spike several pieces from the collection. Lilies being a common symbol in works of the same theme, Gabriel is often portrayed by artists with a spray of lilies upon his announcement to Mary. Lace also played a major role in fabrication throughout the collection. Laid among layers of tulle and receding into cloud-like dimensions, the lace was incorporated into soft drapes and tailored silhouettes, highlighting abstract skeletal structures. This season, I also collaborated with Satori Breonn, pairing each look with jewelry made for specifically for the line.In all, the collection was meant to be my annunciation to the fashion industry as a serious player to watch out for.
A milestone for the Wesley Nault brand this year has been dressing Kim Kardashian for several events, which also landed her on the best dressed list in People Magazine. Kim was recently quoted on E! News saying that Wesley Nault was one of her top 10 designers to wear. With only two seasons under my belt at the time, it was quite the complement and really gave me the motivation to push the collection to the next level.
Next on my wish list… have a chance to nap before my next show at Fashion Week.”
Well, Wesley, I hope you find time for a massage and a nap before your next show and will be sure to share a glass of vino at CW4AC on Thursday! Look forward to seeing you then and thank you for your amazing contribution to helping to educate and eradicate breast cancer.