Text by David Weisz.
Photos by Kalynn Friesen.
It’s 8 p.m. on a Saturday night, outside of the Royal Ontario Museum, where a cold and persistent drizzle of rain fails to dampen the smiles of throngs of well-dressed men and women. The crowd, which consists of students, philanthropists and fashionistas alike, is anticipating a night of fashion and philanthropy that cannot be stifled by a few droplets. After all, it’s time to Rock the Runway!
Since its inception four years ago, Rock the Runway has managed to raise tens of thousands of dollars for recognized local and international charities. All ticket proceeds from this year’s event went towards War Child Canada’s 2011 Afghanistan project.
The highlight of the annual, volunteer-driven event is a full-length fashion show featuring some of Canada’s hottest designers, and this year was no exception. The show presented designs by Arnaldo Santos, Baby Steinberg, Cara Cheung, Chris Nevin, Sarah Stevenson, Zachary C. van Schoonhovan and Daniel Torjman (18 Waits). Special Ambassador for the event was Canadian fashion designer Brian Bailey.
While the fashion show was definitely the pinnacle of the evening, it was the guests themselves who really made Rock the Runway a smashing success. As soon as the doors opened, the ROM’s Hyacinth Gloria Chen Crystal Court quickly filled up with eager patrons ready to wine, dine and socialize for a good cause. The crowd was a stylistic miasma of feather tiaras, gold-sequined dresses, fur boas and classic evening wear. Suffice it to say that there was a lot to see on and off the runway.
Ah yes, the runway: prominently held in the ROM’s Samuel Hall Currelly Gallery, Rock the Runway’s fashion show was a delight for the senses. Models successfully competed for the audience’s attention among glass display cases filled with stuffed grizzlies, canopic jars and medieval cuirassier armour. In fact, as each model emerged from the end of the jet-black runway, the museum’s exhibitions had suddenly come to life.
Emcees Sarah Taylor (MuchMusic) and Brendan Beamish (from Nights & Weekends) did a great job guiding the audience through the show, while Canadian band Young Empires played a particularly excellent set in the middle of the show, as models continued to walk down the runway. However, the most polarizing event of the night occurred when Samantha Nutt, War Child Canada’s founder and executive director, took to the stage. The celebrated philanthropist reminded the crowd that Rock the Runway was more than just sequins and sashes; it was a chance to provide a real future for thousands of Afghanistan’s most impoverished women and children through literacy training and micro-financing.
All in all, Rock the Runway was a great night for Canadian fashion, philanthropy and surprisingly addictive curry-powder rice crispy squares. Count me in for next year!
Rock the Runway was photographed at the Royal Ontario Museum by Kalynn Friesen. http://deedee.jobrary.com
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