By Ainsley Rogers
Photography by Brandan Babineaux
The catwalk strut. Young girls playfully attempt to copy it and adults marvel at svelte models doing it. Walking the runway is a combination of theatre, fashion, and art in motion. Off the catwalk, the fashion industry makes lasting impressions on society daily, producing sought-after goods and generating billions of dollars annually. To give back to the community that has helped to sustain their success, the ever-stylish Silver Sands Factory Stores celebrated their twentieth anniversary with a runway event, the Dressed to Give Charity Fashion Show.
Celebrating twenty years of “Sales, Styles, and Smiles,” Silver Sands, the nation’s largest designer outlet center, provided an opportunity for patrons to preview the hottest spring and summer styles of 2012 with a free fashion show on Thursday, April 19 at its own Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH. Before showtime, attendees were invited to attend an outdoor reception in the courtyard at OFF 5TH for appetizers, photo opportunities, and mingling among friends. The evening’s event was coordinated and executed by Okeye Mitchell and Jeremy Pinne of Ramal Productions.
This year’s successful fashion night out benefited nine local nonprofit and charitable organizations in Walton and Okaloosa counties: Children’s Volunteer Health Network, Children in Crisis, Inc., Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County, Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, Fisher House of the Emerald Coast, Inc., Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation, Seaside Neighborhood School, Shelter House, Inc., and the South Walton Community Council. “The event provided a unique opportunity to give back to many of the charities and nonprofit organizations that have been our community partners throughout the years,” said Ashley Watkins, marketing director at Silver Sands.
Attendees at the Dressed to Give Charity Fashion Show could support their favorite charity by buying tickets (for $5.00 each) to put into drawings for a chance to win many door prizes. Each ticket also came with a ballot to vote for the People’s Choice charity; that title was given to Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation with an additional $500 donation from Silver Sands. Although general admission was free, Silver Sands offered attendees the option to purchase $20 VIP tickets for exclusive runway seating and a complimentary gift bag. Finally, anyone shopping at Silver Sands April 19 through April 22 could submit their receipt to the Shopper Services kiosk with their charity of choice written across the top, and a portion of the proceeds would be donated to that charity.
“The idea for the Dressed to Give Charity Fashion Show originated from the importance Silver Sands places in giving back to its community,” said Watkins. “As you can see from the list of participating charities, we selected a diverse group of charitable organizations with a variety of philanthropic goals so that all attendees and shoppers could support the cause closest to their heart in a variety of ways.”
Along with giving back to organizations near and dear to the local community’s heart, Silver Sands sought to provide attendees with inspiration and ideas for creating top-of-the-line style for less at the outlet center. Eight catwalk models featured notable styles from famous brands such as Emilio Pucci, Gucci, Valentino, Calvin Klein, Diane von Furstenberg, Michael Kors, French Connection, Free People, Alice + Olivia, Marc by Marc Jacobs, and many more.
Many of the Silver Sands stores actively participated in donating time and services. Carrabba’s Italian Grill and San Gelato Café donated the pre-show hors d’oeuvres. Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH provided runway attire and graciously donated two hundred Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH totes for the VIP guests and a $100 gift card to give away to one lucky attendee. Fusion Spa Salon at Grand Boulevard also donated services for the models’ hair and makeup.
The idea for the Dressed to Give Charity Fashion Show originated from the importance Silver Sands places in giving back to its community.
To further mark their anniversary, Silver Sands is celebrating throughout 2012 with events that reward its shoppers, its associates, and the community for helping to make Silver Sands successful over the past two decades. On April 16, the outlet center kicked off its 20 Weeks of Giveaways. Shoppers may enter to win one of twenty prizes, such as Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses; purses from Michael Kors and Dooney & Bourke; jewelry from Swarovski and Zales the Diamond Store Outlet; and much more. The first drawing took place on April 20. Finally, on September 1, a twentieth-anniversary celebration will reward one Silver Sands shopper with a grand prize that includes items from stores at Silver Sands, a two-night stay at a local resort, and more.
It’s safe to say that 2012 will be a successful year for Silver Sands as it continues to give back to its shoppers and the community.
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