It was a night of big city razzle and dazzle overlooking Hyde Park but the success of the annual fundraiser for not-for-profit charity, Dress for Success Sydney, would not have been possible without some hefty Blue Mountains connections.
Leura resident Charlotte Smith, owner of international vintage treasure trove, The Darnell Collection, curated an exquisite fashion parade for this premier event, 200 Years of Empowerment – A Fashion Journey, supported by Westpac.
“For the third year in a row, Dress for Success Sydney (DFSS) was gifted this most fabulous fundraising opportunity,” said CEO Ursula McGeown.
“As our charity ambassador, Charlotte designed the event to unite dedicated followers of fashion with life-changing philanthropy, and the formula proved a major success, raising over $100,000 through ticket sales, auction items and Empower Hour donations – this is the first year we asked our guests to donate one hour of their salary to DFSS during the fashion parade.
“Our mission is to empower women to achieve economic independence. Through our dressing, career, outreach and coaching programs, we have helped over 2500 women in the last year alone on their journey to employment.”
As well as opening up the vast vaults of her clothing catalogue – the main lure for the 350 guests at this night of fashion fabulousness – Ms Smith also enticed many kind-hearted celebrities to flaunt her rare treasures on the catwalk.
The fashion parade was eloquently kicked off by designer Akira Isogawa dressed as an Edwardian gent – he was joined by a feast of Sydney celebrities including Lyndey Milan, Ben Fordham, Deb Knight and Jeremy Fernandez, who donated their time and star appeal to raise funds for DFSS.
And then there were local heroes - Blackheath artist Mathew Lynn was one of the models willing to step out of his comfort zone and be catapulted into another decade or even another century of sartorial splendour. This was his third DFSS parade. A multi-finalist in the Archibald and a winner of the Packer Prize in 2013, his portraits can be viewed at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra and Government House in Sydney.
Joining him on the runway were three students - Charlotte’s daughter Olivia de Govrik and Eleni Vergotis, who will sit their HSC this year at Blue Mountains Grammar School and Troy Geddes, who attends Katoomba High School.
“These young people are the faces of the future – stepping confidently and with enormous pride, the perfect examples of empowered 21st century youth,” said Ms McGeown.
She added that the generosity of the Blue Mountains community also extended to three local businesses.
“The official photographer for the event was Brigitte Grant Photography, while our guest goodie bags were made all the sweeter with personalised Pucci-embossed cookies from Whisk and Pin and exquisitely-boxed chocolates donated by Josophan’s Fine Chocolates. We are blessed to have their support.
“With sell-out events such as this, DFSS can continue to build the confidence of thousands of women, taking them from welfare to work and self-sufficiency. But we can’t survive without our army of volunteers, sponsors, partners and financial donations. And of course, Charlotte Smith and The Darnell Collection.”
To find out more about Empower Hour and how you can help DFSS change the lives of an increasing number of women who need its support, go to empowerhour.org.au or contact Beverley Brock at DFSS on 9517 9537.