Brown College alumna helps fight domestic abuse with fashion show
Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 16:05
The Speak Against Silence Charity Fashion Show seamlessly combined a love for fashion with a powerful initiative to help victims of domestic abuse. Raising more than $50,000 for Aids to Victims of Domestic Abuse, the fashion show committee consisted of a group of high school students from the Houston area.
“My mother, Sofia Adrogue, has always been passionate about women’s issues and has passed on this fervor to me,” show chair Sloane Adrogue-Gustafson said. “Together we picked the perfect charity for our fashion show: a cause combining children as well as domestic abuse.”
The funds raised through the SAS fashion show went toward AVDA’s Children’s Resource Project, which specifically focuses on child victims of domestic violence.
For over 30 years, the nonprofit organization AVDA has given free legal aid to over 85,000 abuse victims, according to avda-tx.org.
However, the Houston Chronicle reported that the recession limited AVDA’s funding at a time when the rate of domestic violence was skyrocketing.
By dedicating the show to AVDA, the committee was able to not only donate funds to the charity but also to publicize AVDA’s efforts in the community.
“The purpose of the SAS Fashion Show was to bring to light the victims of domestic abuse and the importance of giving to those in need,” Adrogué-Gustafson said.
As the sunset lowered onto the rooftop of Urban Retreat Salon and Spa, the event began to unfold with guests anxiously awaiting the designers’ collections. The event featured a group of highly talented high school fashion designers with a wide range of styles.
Episcopal High School freshman Amir Taghi displayed his delicate feminine designs on the catwalk while models of future Parsons The New School for Design student Jackson Wiederhoeft strutted in 18th century elegance.
“I wanted to ensure that I had a cross section diverse group of designers from across Houston public and private schools,” Adrogue-Gustafson said. “I learned a lot seeking to communicate and lead a group of innovative independent designers.”
The young designers made a bold impression on those within the fashion industry.
“I’m excited that [the designers] are all high school students,” FashionDailyMag.com Editor in Chief Brigitte Segura said.
Segura, who is also a New York fashion design consultant, said she appreciated that the fashion show was a twist on the usual showcase of lines from seasoned professionals.
Although a great love for fashion motivated the designers, the fact that the fashion show was helping the lives of those in need also helped the designers persevere and inspire their collections, Adrogue-Gustafson said.
“Chanel pre-fall 2012: Paris Bombay collection inspired the look of chains within each piece of my collection,” Adrogue-Gustafson, who was also a designer, said.
In addition to the aesthetic look of the chains, they also held a symbolic meaning that related to the charity initiative.
“The chains represent the shackles holding back these families who have been abused, violated and neglected; families that AVDA supports throughout their ordeal,” Adrogue- Gustafson said.
Wiederhoeft also demonstrated his support of the AVDA cause through his collection. Wiederhoeft directed one of his models to lift her hoop skirt at the end of the runway during the show. Stitched on the underside of the hoop skirt were the words, “Speak Against Silence,” reflecting the title and message of the night.
Though Adrogue-Gustafson envisioned and initiated the fashion show, she said she owed a lot to her mother, former Brown College president Sofia Adrogue (Brown ’88), for her guidance in setting up the event and her mother’s friends for helping inspire donations.
“I had the opportunity to learn from my mother and [her] enterprising friends, a group of dedicated professional women who ensured that all that could be donated was,” Adrogue- Gustafson said. “This was truly a life lesson.”
Adrogue, a member of Looper Reed & McGraw P.C., offered her own advice to others looking to initiate charity fundraising events.
“Surround yourself with truly dedicated, highly motivated people who wish to collaborate and be innovative,” Adrogue said. “If feasible, have a co-chair and honorary chairs who are experienced in philanthropy and community leadership. Ensure that you are truly passionate about your cause and prepare to spend unimaginable hours and reap a priceless reward — giving back.”