Fashion Show and Sale

Shopgirls' Fashion Show and Sale

Shopgirls Gallery Boutique is my ultimate community craft fair. It has handmade clothes I actually want to try on, fabulously bizarre accessories and very unexpected home decor (glass paperweights in the shape of silicon breast implants, anyone?). So when owner Michelle Germain invited me to the shop's first charity runway fashion show and sale, Walk the Walk for Windfall, this past Wednesday, I responded with a resounding, "Yes, please!"

Greeted at the door by store manager and jeweler Ashley Winning-Ball and a drink ticket, I headed straight to the auction table - no, not the bar! - to bid on a massage treatment and yoga pass, two of the many items donated by surrounding businesses. All proceeds from the auction, ticket sales, and bar go Windfall, a local charity that supplies the homeless with new clothes (I learned today, they raised $3,000).

Fashion Show and Sale

"In the spirit of paying it forward, we wanted to associate ourselves with a charity that not only helped people but specially our community in Parkdale," says Germain. "Shopgirls is nothing if not a group effort but this event has created an even bigger community of like-minded creative people."

Using clients and contributing artists as models, stylist Wendy Woods of The Refinery pulled from the fall collections of the shop's revamped roster of Canadian designers, selecting pieces to suit each woman's body type and personality.

Fashion Show and Sale

"We wanted to provide our clientele with the opportunity to witness a fashion show like no other, by showcasing real women as our models," says Germain, "We're giving fashion a new face, something accessible and relatable."

And the crowd, stuffed with friends, family members, shop contributors and industry types, appreciated their efforts with hoots and hollers as each woman tentatively walked down the runway of blue masking tape stuck down the middle of the wooden shop floor.

Knowing I'd have a chance to shop afterward, I made a note of my favourites: a body conscious lacey blue dress by Faren; a hand blown double strand bubble necklace by Karli Sears; and a striped shirt by Maudlin and Joy.

Fashion Show and Sale

As soon as the chairs were cleared away, I shuffled quickly to the rack and pulled down that glorious stripy shirt. But after looking at the tag and finding $130 staring back at me, I felt disheartened. Right. Canadian made also means high production costs. Nearly forgot about that part.

Noticing my dismay, the National Post's style and culture columnist Nathalie Atkinson lent over and reminded me, "Well, you can buy two shirts at Zara that you'll never wear or, for the same price, buy this one and wear it forever." Now these are the words to shop by.

Writing by Emma Yardley. Photos by Warren Pawluk

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