On Thursday, October 12, 2017, the American Women’s Club of Berlin hosted a colorful evening event, Driving Sustainability – A Fashion Show for Charity for a sold-out crowd of 300, in collaboration with DRIVE Volkswagen Group Forum, at the DRIVE Showroom in the city’s center, on Friedrichstrasse 84. After a pre-show of cocktails and finger food and the opportunity to see models in sculptural and interactive designs by Malina Sebastian, Lina Wassong and Layla De Mue, the show opened with welcoming remarks from Cornelia Schneider, Managing Director of DRIVE. My-Linh Kunst, President of the AWC Berlin, followed with an introduction of the philanthropic purpose of the evening “this German / American cultural evening marked the International Day of the Girl Child on October 11th by selecting education for women and girls as the beneficiary for its fundraising, specifically, Hope Beyond Displacement, a FAWCO Target Project with Collateral Repair Project, an American NGO, helping to settle refugees in Jordan – a poor country faced with a massive humanitarian crisis.”
My-Linh then introduced the show’s Curator and Creative Director and fellow AWC Berlin member, Olga Johnston-Antonova, who delivered a passionate and inspirational speech about the environmental impact of the fashion industry, especially ‘throwaway fashion’, the #2 polluter after the oil industry. The only solution to this situation, she argues, is to make fashion sustainable, non-damaging to the people and the planet, while, at the same time, providing us with an abundance of aesthetically desirable apparel, accessories, and styles. She gave examples of the variety of ways more and more of the makers of today’s fashion are embracing sustainability, proving it can be profitable and, at the same time, setting the challenge for a revolutionary agenda for a global positive change among consumers and other industries.
The first catwalk was introduced by the Show’s creative collaborator Anita Heiberg, a sustainable designer and Master’s program lecturer on sustainability. She said the future of sustainable innovation lies in the development of our students and in educational institutions around the world which are pushing the boundaries and exploring and experimenting in the different areas of possibility within sustainable design. Anita then introduced the YOUNG DESIGNERS, graduates of the Masters Program in Sustainability at the former ESMOD Berlin. Ana-Melissa Ortuño de León presented a practical application of sustainability through a visualized guideline for the denim industry. Wen Ting Chen connected the concepts of Taoism and circularity through culturally sensitive, upcycled garments. Finally, a project from Hong Yu using bacterial dye and zero waste techniques to try to capture fading memories in fabric.
The next speaker, Thekla Wilkening, Co-Founder of Kleiderei, addressed the concepts of renting, borrowing clothes, and using vintage as sustainability options. Reuse! Recycle! Reduce! Kleiderei showed 12 looks on the next catwalk segment titled ALTERNATIVE CONSUMPTION.
Marte Hentschel, founder of Sourcebook.eu, a networking service for the fashion industry, introduced the third catwalk, FASHION FORWARD, which included designs by Farah Floyd, Fade Out Label, and Wilfried Pletzinger.
The final catwalk segment SUSTAINABLE LUXURY included designers Malina Sebastian, Layla De Mue, 13 Dresses and Rahel Guiragossian, and was preceded by the talented musician Judy Mai singing her brand new single, Chills.
The night’s closing speaker was the venerable Berlin fashion correspondent for Women’s Wear Daily, the American Melissa Drier, also Co-Founder of the German Fashion Council in Berlin. Melissa shared her personal philosophy of sustainability – Buy little! Buy quality! Use vintage (she was wearing shoes from the 1930s)!
My-Linh thanked Melissa and acknowledged the herculean efforts of the team which brought this special evening to fruition. She thanked the sponsors JAYJAY Models who provided most of the models, Jozef John Hairdesign for the VIP gift bags, as well as Wax in the City, Bartneck Print Artists, On Cloud Bloom, and Ibiza Salt. “In 8 weeks,” she said, “the show came together, thanks to Olga and Anita who impressively mobilized their networks to participate – everyone worked pro-bono, generously donating their time and talent – all the models, hair and make-up artists, musician Judy Mai, catwalk producer and choreographer Gabriela Gottschalk and Manu, dressers, photographers, videographer, and AWC volunteers.”
Finally, just after Olga took the stage to urge the audience to join the Fashion Revolution, the catwalk was stormed by models, designers, and crew carrying signs with the provocative messages: “Fashion Revolution” and “Who made my Clothes?”
The evening raised an impressive 4500 Euro and the AWC Berlin Board has decided to contribute an additional 500 Euro for a total donation of 5000 Euro to the FAWCO Target Project Hope Beyond Displacement. The FAWCO Target Project will send 100 girls to school, fund an after school program for girls, train 120 women on vocation, computer and community leadership, as well as work with men and boys in the community to raise awareness and prevent violence against women and children.
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