How do animal print jackets, cowboy hats, BDSM lingerie and trumpet style gowns coalesce? Only under the umbrella of “Savage,” the ingenious theme of Fashion for a Cause’s season nine show. This highly anticipated event is put on annually by Fashion for a Cause, a student run organization on Grounds dedicated to connecting the University with the Charlottesville community through a combination of artistic expression and community outreach.
Hosted at the DoubleTree Hotel, the show employed 16 different collections, varying from “Warfare,” which was full of militaristic and utilitarian aesthetics, to the full glamour of formal wear in the “Grandiose” collection. All together, the collections demonstrated the far reaching interpretations of “Savage.” Stylists showcased the many different — but equally valid — interpretations of the theme.
“When I think of ‘Savage,’ I think of being your own biggest fan and not caring what others think,” said Kourtney Bugg, fourth-year College student and this season’s fashion director. “Savage is a state of mind, not something negative.”
Her interpretation was evidenced by the show’s variety. Monochromatic Yeezy vibes and grungy all-black ensembles contrasted pink patent leather skirts and layered corset tops to prove there are no rules for how to be “Savage.”
Expertly choreographed student models moved like clockwork, seamlessly transitioning from one look to another. Through blue-steel-like gazes and fearless attitudes, they embodied “Savage” perfectly. Specifically in the collections, “Monsta” and “Lewd,” female models reigned. Their dominance over their male counterparts was purposeful, powerful and made the standout collection, “I Am Woman,” all the more compelling.
The only all female collection of the show, “I Am Woman,” exhibited a more conservative elegance that was in stark contrast to the previous, sexually-charged ensembles. Models walked their looks once, and then again, only this time with signs reading, “I Am Woman” in big black letters held high. The same women who, a song earlier, had been flaunting whips and chains were now covered up, raising and lowering their signs in unison and proclaiming their womanhood in a new, equally empowering way.
This semester, Fashion for a Cause partnered with Charlottesville’s City of Promise, a local non-profit whose mission is to improve educational and developmental outcomes for Charlottesville youth, specifically within the Starr Hill, Westhaven and 10th and Page neighborhoods. To help bridge the gap between the University and the greater Charlottesville community, club members volunteered at local schools, providing homework help and college mentoring throughout the semester. Through their volunteer work, they taught students about what they do in Fashion for a Cause while promoting the power of creativity. In addition to volunteering, the club gives back by raising money throughout the semester and donating their proceeds to various local causes.
“FFC feels that it is the responsibility of U.Va. students to positively impact the Charlottesville community, as it has given us so much,” said Ciara Blackston, fourth-year Commerce student and Director of Finance.
Last year, the club raised $2,500 for City Schoolyard Garden, a local not for profit organization and longstanding partner of Fashion for a Cause, according to Blackston. The organization’s goal is to promote equity and community by fostering experiemental learning in their various garden spaces. Currently, City Schoolyard Garden has eight gardens, one in each of Charlottesville’s public elementary schools, as well as Buford Middle School and Charlottesville High School.
In addition to working with organizations in Charlottesville, Fashion for a Cause has created its own FFC Scholar Program, designed to provide college scholarships for local Charlottesville students. Last year, the program provided three scholarships, one of $750 and two of $500 to deserving Charlottesville High School seniors.
“Last year we inducted our first class of FFC Scholars and we are excited to induct new scholars this year,” Blackston said. “At this moment, we are still finalizing numbers from the show but it is our aim to have $5,000 to donate.”
As much as the show was about fashion and philanthropy, it was equally about community. Each look was accompanied by roaring applause, as friends, family members and complete strangers cheered their support for the models on the runway and the club members behind the scenes. No model garnered more attention than second year College student David Askew, who doubles as the club’s Male Model Chair. His sass and swagger were undeniable, and his death drop — yes, death drop — was a standout moment from the show that had the whole audience on their feet.
The show concluded by recognizing the club members who made the event possible. From the makeup team to the stylists, the production was truly a team effort. The show’s drama and beauty successfully proved “Savage” means more than its negative connotation. To be, “Savage,” means to be brave, bold and confident, whether that be through dress or service — or both.