A wise woman named Beyoncé once proclaimed that a diva is a female version of a hustler. But in the case of this year’s St. Vincent de Paul Retro Fittings event, it’s a way to raise money and awareness for a wonderfully charitable cause.
Retro Fittings is a different kind of fashion show. Event Chair Taren Kinebrew (founder of Sweet Petit Desserts), who came on board as the event chair in 2013, points out that they’ve been working on the event since the beginning of the year. “The fashion show is the part I most look forward to,” she says. The board, along with creative director Joe Rigatti, created the theme Divas Through the Decades and worked with DAAP students involved as part of a sophomore class project.
Each student group was given $10 to spend at any St. Vincent de Paul thrift store to create diva-worthy designs that span the decades. Everything from the 1950’s (Marilyn et al) to the early 2000’s (think Carrie Bradshaw) will be represented—each in a custom-created look inspired by the original diva. “I like to see what the students come up with,” says Kinebrew. “It’s amazing what they pull off.”
What they pull off is an amazing feat of creativity, hard work, and more than a little fun. The student designers spend time making sure their creations reflect the style of the inspiration diva, and a lot of thought goes into how each design comes together. Fashion design student Mackenzie Karg chose Ginger Spice as her subject because her sister was a Spice Girls fan. “Ever since I was young and watched my sister fawn over the Spice Girls, I have always thought that Ginger Spice had such a unique and killer style and personality. She seems spunky and I tried to showcase [that] in the design.”
Some of the divas chosen are so prolific that choosing specific inspiration proved to be a challenge. “It was challenging picking a ‘side’ of Madonna to capture,” says Lillian Barker. “As I researched, I was attracted to both her Marilyn look in Material Girl and her early punk looks. I actually ended up using a slinky black velvet dress I got at St. Vincent’s on a whim freshman year thinking I could use it for something!”
“My thrift experience was so great that I had a hard time narrowing down what I was going to use in my final garment,” said Rachel Weber, whose Diana Ross look wound up incorporating a sequined cardigan, a slip, and a curtain. Ellen Yohey, who worked on Cher’s diva costume, agreed. “SVDP is a really awesome place to shop that I hadn’t really considered before this project.”
This year’s pre-show bonuses include hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, raffle prizes, an on-site mini boutique stocked with clothing and accessories hand-picked by the committee, and a live auction where you can bid on everything from custom jewelry to an African safari. After the show, head to the after party at Kaze, where you can enjoy a special Retro Fittings cocktail (as well as Kaze’s delicious pork buns) at the elegant bar or outdoor patio.
More than a fashion event, proceeds go directly to SVDP’s programs for homelessness prevention, the Bob and Sylvia Rahe mattress fund, the Charitable Pharmacy, clothing and furniture vouchers, and more. “You’re not just buying a ticket to a fashion show,” says Kinebrew. “You’re changing people’s lives.”
Retro Fittings, Thursday, October 16, 6 pm, Music Hall. svdpcincinnati.org or call 513.421.HOPE