Beautiful. Professional. Elegant. Amazing. Dazzling.
These are just a few of the words that came out of the mouths of the attendees of the Women of the World Refugee Fashion show on Friday night. Then Founder and Executive Director spoke and added one more word: COURAGE.
For every beautiful dress, for every elegant step, for every reserved-blooming-to-proud smile – there is a story of a second-hand t-shirt in a camp, a run for your life, a scream. Each of the women in the refugee fashion show takes a step away from being a victim and toward freedom… and their footfalls echo in the hearts of all of humanity. They ran from oppression to represent the culture that would not die, they each walked to educate us in our freedoms.
This year’s fashion show featured women and fashions from Ghana, Congo, Iraq, Kurdish Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Senegal, Tajikistan, Brazil, Nepal, Sierra Leone, and Karen women from Burma. In the days leading up to the event, they put the finishing touches on their clothing and practiced walking the runway with Miss Tajikistan, Nilufar Sherzod. “Nil” taught each of the women about the differences between the traditional fashion runway model and a cultural fashion runway model – the slower pace, when to pause and give the audience a greeting from the nation’s traditions, and of course, how to smile and show your pride in representing your culture. It was Women of the World’s distinct pleasure to have Miss Sherzod mentor the young models and we encourage each of you to support Miss United Nations – Nilufar Sherzod.
[gn_pullquote align="left"]They ran from oppression to represent the culture that would not die, they each walked to educate us in our freedoms.[/gn_pullquote]Pierpont Place was decorated and the caterers from the Red Rock Brewery started to deliver the delicious food for the event. The volunteers and staff from the Women of the World took their places and began to welcome the guests. Over 100 guests, friends, and family attended the nights events.
The talent of the supporters of Women of the World continued to come to center stage as the MC of the night’s events and KSL TV and radio reporter, the host of Cultural Connections, Nkoyo Iyamba. Using her knowledge of fashion from her entrepreneurial vision of bridal dresses and her understanding of cultures as a reporter of Salt Lake City diversity, Nkoyo dazzled the crowd with her encyclopedic knowledge and endeared them with her ever-present wit. Women of the World could not have picked a more beautiful, more charismatic host for the event and is greatful for Nkoyo’s joy in presenting each of the models and their cultural heritage.
After a message from the Fashion Show volunteer coordinator Felicia Sanchez and a thanks to those who donated generously to the Fashion Show’s Silent Auction (see list below) by Development Director Justin Harnish, Samira Harnish delivered her message that detailed both the beauty and courage of the Women of the World and the need for each of us to support refugee women in order to develop families and our communities.
Then it was time for the Fashion Show.
(For more information about the outfits and cultural background of each of the fashions, see the slides detailing some of the traditional fashions)
We started with beautiful little children wearing the traditional clothing of their homelands. Of course these little ones were met with the the most fantastic ahhhs and ohhhs of all of the models. It was not just because of their cuteness, they had the grace and skill on the catwalk after their time in training with Nil and the rest of the Miss Universe models.
The teens followed, each beautiful and with an air of invinsibility, so common to an American teen. There are so many stories in this group. In the days before the Fashion Show, we met Mami and her sister Rosabelle from the Republic of the Congo. We learned how long it has taken for them to achieve this confidence in the United States, how their high school classmates made fun of their English, and how they don’t associate with any country yet. You couldn’t tell on the catwalk, Rosabelle beautiful, studious, and shy was poised, while her sister, tall and elegant, passionate about becoming a fashion model, was professional. All of the confidence of being where they belong could be seen.
Finally, the adults, the mothers came out onto the catwalk. Iran, Congo, and Iraq were all represented. They brought there families, some walking the same catwalk as their daughters, sharing the pride they feel in their heritage. There are not words enough for how beautiful the women and girls were, showing from both the inside and outside. The video footage and the photos show it all.
There are so many people to thank but for the part of this blog, Women of the World would like to thank the fans that attended the Fashion Show and that dilligently read and subscribe to the blog. Thank you for all of your support.