For underneath the layer of gloss, fickle fashion fantasies and celebrity entourages that often overpower the collections, existed a passionate core of creative personalities devoted to raise awareness of a community that is not only a world away from New York City but is in high danger of not being a world at all.
On February 9, Designers for Darfur closed the week's final curtain call at the Roseland Ballroom with an inspiring presentation designed to save Darfur, a small region in Sudan, where unfortunately at least 400,000 innocent civilians have been killed and everyday more than 2.5 million people are being forced to flee their homes and take refuge in displaced-persons camps.
When President Bush and the American congress declared genocide in Darfur, founders Malcolm Harris, designer of Mal Sirrah Inc. and model Lydia Hearst became emotionally involved and decided to gather the industry's best to motivate the world to reach out.
Plans developed into an event that called on America's leading desired designers such as L.A.M.B., Heatherette, Jeremy Scott, Perry Ellis, Luca Luca, Nicole Miller, Baby Phat, Chado Ralph Rucci, Naeem Khan, Donna Karen, Jason Wu, Mal Sirrah, John Bartlett, and many more to create one complete ensemble in red, yellow, green or black for a hit runway show to turn couture into charity.
The star-studded support from celebrities such as Oprah, George Clooney, Kanye West and many more also added to the recognition of the cause, through none mentioned were reportedly at the event (West was spotted at the discrete after party), all have made statements of their concern for Darfur to the public.
"Everyone here tonight is volunteering their time and efforts, from models to makeup artists and stylists," said Harris to the group of over 1000 attendees that gathered in the open forum around the large staged runway.
Carol Alt, former super model made a runway rendezvous. Backstage she was asked if she was nervous to hit the catwalk again.
"I've got a lot of nerve!" She blurted out. "If you want to see how old your skin looks, just sit beside a 15 year old model!" she joked. "But in all seriousness, this is an event that really struck me and I am proud to be a part of it…it's time to give these poor people hope."
The models that volunteered in this show had a mission down the runway, to which each got an applause that made the room feel as one. Glowing and intriguing designs for women, men and children acted as a live commercial that would continue to help raise money, as each outfit went live to bid on Ebay following the event.
"It is artwork turned into heart-work'" said Executive Director of the Save Darfur coalition, David Rubenstein. "I just think it's super that the fashion world is gathering together with the same consciousness to end the violence in Darfur."
While seeing the latest and greatest styles for Fall 2007 throughout the week gave gurus hope for innovative fashions to come, there was nothing like attending a soirée that made you think in the moment and to give hope to those that may not even get to live another season.
"If we all find that place within to simply lend that helping hand, just imagine the world we could all live in…it truly inspires me to dream for a better day," said Harris. "This entire experience has made me a much more developed designer, human being and a citizen of the world."
To bid on designs shown at Designers for Darfur, visit www.ebay.com/designersfordarfur
And for more information on how you can get involved, visit www.savedarfur.org