The heavy dance beat signaled the opening of the hippest spot in Marin — for one night anyway. Beautiful people decked out in the finest outfits danced and sauntered down the runway during Thursday's celebration of Fashion's Night Out in The Village in Corte Madera.
The fashion show, set up in the shopping center's plaza in front of Williams-Sonoma, featured the latest designs straight out of the display windows from J. Jill, Macy's, Gap, Banana Republic, Lucky Brand Jeans, Chico's, Tommy Bahama, Francesca's, White House Black Market, Solstice, even North Face and Gymboree.
The playful styles, as lively as the dance mix soundtrack for the show, included bright accessories that exploded off neutral colors, as well as contrasting black-and-white striped dresses and even a Superman t-shirt.
All the featured retailers donated the fashions, just as the models from Stars Model Management donated their time to the fundraiser for San Rafael's Image for Success, which offers wardrobes for people trying to get back on their feet, who might not be able to afford new clothes. Guests donated $20 per ticket for the event.
Some of the models were experienced professionals, while others were on the runway for the first time after answering an open call from Stars on Saturday.
The fashions, perfect for a day in the office or some fun on the town, are exactly what the organizers at Image for Success hope to provide to their clients with a philosophy that goes beyond "The clothes make the man."
"Our work is transformative. We offer people a sense of self," said Diane Ettelson, executive director of Image for Success. "You just can't get the job without the right clothes sometimes."
Barbara Lee, who spoke at Thursday event, founded Image for Success in 1999 as a resource for single mothers and abused women who were trying to change their lives, but needed a new look to get a fresh start.
Image for Success has helped more than 1,500 people get the opportunity for a new life by supplying them with a whole new wardrobe, sometimes with help from a personal shopper.
"There is a beauty within, but you need that outer layer to bring out the confidence," said Sherry Rice, who works at Image for Success.
Xochitl Fierro is one of the group's success stories who is now trying to pay back her good fortune. Fierro works as a retail associate in the group's retail store at 1557 4th Street in San Rafael and as a breast-feeding advisor with WIC (Women, Infants and Children).
"I was a single mother again and I had just gotten out of a bad relationship. I was in a low place in my life," she recalled. "I found people at Image for Success who cared. I found again the beautiful person I am."
Ettelson is hoping some of the people at the show will look into their closets for "gently used clothes" and donate them to Image for Success. She says there is a urgent need with the start of the new school year for children's clothing.
"It's tough to go to school and be laughed at because you have to wear the same clothes every day," Ettelson said. "And kids are tough on their clothes, so they go through them quickly."
Clothes may be donated to Image for Success either at the office or store in San Rafael, or at the concierge office in The Village. Call (415) 482-6077 for more information or to set up an appointment.
"This was a lot of work from everyone to pull together, but it was worth it. This is a great event," said Brianna Thornton, event manager for The Village.
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