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Stanford Charity Fashion Show

The Stanford Charity Fashion Show looked beyond the expected

IT’S A PLEASURE to see a catwalk where the models don’t all look like they come from Ukraine. Thankfully, the Stanford Charity Fashion Show on May 15 featured not just the bone-thin Caucasian girls seen so frequently on runways.

Instead, a diverse array of nontraditional male and female models showed off textile creations by more than 25 designers, representing all levels of the local and international fashion industries.

Billed as the biggest fashion show of its kind on the West Coast, the show brought together almost 2,000 people under a massive white tent constructed on one of Stanford University’s spacious lawns.

For three hours, the best of the Bay Area fashion crowd observed black, white, East Indian, petite, tall, muscular and even hijab-wearing models strut their stuff on a diamond-shaped runway.

This year, the annual charity fashion show benefited Kiva, a Bay Area–based nonprofit organization that aims to alleviate poverty by giving microloans to entrepreneurs around the world.

After an opening performance by avant-garde San Francisco electronic-dance trio Fans of Jimmy Century (of The L Word fame), the first collection out of the gate was by Tosca Soraya. The Netherlands-born designer’s jumpsuits and flowing dresses mixed water-colored femininity with sci-fi cuts. Soraya’s masterful tailoring was obvious from the textured folds and details sewn expertly onto her leggings and layered skirts.

Palo Alto designer Maryam Garba mixed simple silhouettes with bold geometric, African-inspired prints for an extremely accessible collection that would no doubt look great on just about anyone.

Brightly hued leg wear provided by Tabbisocks was a key element used by several designers that evening. The San Jose–based leg wear company had a wide array of Japanese-inspired knee and thigh-high tights and socks that brought a touch of Harajuku style to Stanford.

Emerging Bay Area fashion designers Karen Lum and Alexandria von Bromssen were also featured in the show, while the realm of men’s wear was represented by urban clothier Civil Societyand high-end jeans brand Kent Denim.

Though design house SWATI Couture almost didn’t make it into the show (they weren’t listen on the bill due to a before-show disagreement with the university), the Milpitas designer’s luxurious, Indian-infused designs were nonetheless the highlight of the evening. SWATI’s spectacularly detailed, elaborately beaded saris and ball gowns looked like they weighed a ton. In spite of this, the models did a great job sparkling like glamorous disco-balls under the catwalk lights, to many “oohs” and “ahhs” from the crowd.

Danielle Pettee’s whimsical designs closed out the Stanford Charity Fashion show, and for good reason. Though Pettee only started professionally designing clothing a year ago, her unique hand-painted, petal- and tulle-adored cocktail dresses proved that this San Francisco designer is one to watch.