Fashion for Good ~ a catwalk show, celebrity makeovers and a host of great pop-up shops
One of the biggest fashion events ever to take place in Surrey, the Fashion for Good weekend promises a glittering catwalk show, celebrity makeovers and a host of great pop-up shops representing boutiques from around the county
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine September 2012
One of the biggest fashion events ever to take place in Surrey, the Fashion for Good weekend promises a glittering catwalk show, celebrity makeovers and a host of great pop-up shops representing boutiques from around the county – and it’s all in a good cause too. Here, Debbie Ward chats to organiser KAT VITOU to find out more about this exciting event, which is also supported by Surrey Life magazine
Second-hand clothes, hard-working volunteers and a lot of vision helped glamorous Surrey fund-raiser Fashion For Good net an impressive �20,000 for local charities last year. Now, organiser Kat Vitou has set her sights on trying to double that total with a return of the successful catwalk fashion show plus a day of shopping and pampering to be held at Brooklands Hotel in Weybridge this November.
Kat, who lives in Cobham, came up with the idea for a major fund-raiser after reading a report by the Community Foundation on hidden poverty in Surrey around the same time as the Daily Mail ran a piece calling Cobham the ‘Beverly Hills’ of the UK. Moved, she began researching local charities that helped the disadvantaged and hatching a plan to raise cash and awareness.
“I didn’t want to just ask people for money as such,” says Kat. “I wanted to come up with a concept that I could direct all the right people in the area to and that they’d love.”
She admits the more affluent parts of Surrey can seem like a ‘bubble’ and says she had a few of tongue-in-cheek comments from people, both in and outside the county, when she told them about her plans. “People would say things like: ‘Disadvantaged? Don’t they have a swimming pool in the back garden?’”
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It’s because of that perception, of course, that the people in the area who do need help can sometimes get overlooked, and Fashion for Good now supports Oasis in Cobham, which helps disadvantaged families, the Lower Green community association in Esher and domestic violence charity Your Sanctuary in Woking.
Little black bookWith a background in fashion herself, Kat felt a catwalk show was the obvious choice for last year’s inaugural event. Before taking time out to raise her family, she worked in online publishing for some top fashion magazines in London, so she was also able to use her knowledge and contacts to secure favours for Fashion For Good.
“I needed to do something that I knew and that would work for the people round here to get them involved,” she says. “What also struck me in the area was that people were really fashionable and there were a lot of high-end boutiques still surviving in a recession.”
Last year’s seemingly simple concept was to gather a band of 10 volunteers, mostly local mums, to go door-to-door collecting second-hand designer clothes over a period of eight months. These outfits were then ‘upscaled’ by London stylists – including Georgie Pincus who has worked for Vogue – paraded in a fashion show and sold.
This year, the emphasis has changed. On Friday November 9, eight or more boutiques will be involved in the catwalk show with a model each to showcase their outfits with help from stylist Fran Lee of Production Element. An auction will also take place with prizes including use of a Barbados villa and celebrity donations like a signed Freddy Flintoff cricket bat. “It will be another very glamorous evening,” says Kat. “We’re using it as a launch pad for Saturday when we’ve got 36 pop-up shops from Surrey and London.”
The Surrey Fashion Weekender, as it will be known, will also offer a range of other treats like blow-drys from Anita Cox salons, makeovers with Louise Rednapp’s beauty range, manicures and more. For just �20, visitors can have half an hour with one of a band of top personal shoppers – who have worked for the likes of the royal family – to help style them for that Christmas party or winter break. Up-and-coming singer Jack Jenkins will be providing entertainment and to turn the whole day into a great pamper experience Brooklands Hotel will also be laying on a high tea. “It’s a full-on day, with lots of lovely things to do with your girlfriends,” says Kat, pointing out that while men are very welcome Mercedes-Benz World is next door if they need a diversion.
Boutique streetWith between 500 and 1,000 people expected on the Saturday, Kat believes the event will also help local businesses. Already confirmed are House of Fraser (showcasing its Mary Portas range), boutiques Club in Esher and cSee in Cobham and the upcoming online range from Little Mistress.
Last year, mums on Kat’s volunteer team were emboldened to invite celebrities they saw at the school gates and the likes of John Terry were among the show’s audience. This year, there will be more celebrity involvement with PR, celebrity and fashion expert and stylist Nick Ede hosting, helped by international model Katya E, while Louise Redknapp will be showcasing her make-up.
Kat, who also runs website Cobham Mums, is being helped by a team of ten volunteers working around childcare commitments or their own businesses. “Most of them are mums who want to show their children that they’re doing something good for the community. A lot have had careers and made the choice to look after their children full-time but they still like the idea of using their brains. We’ve got people in sales, marketing and PR teams. None of them get paid but they are all working really hard.” Others who have lent their support include a graphic designer and web developer. “The community spirit, I think, has been amazing,” says Kat.
Plans for Fashion for Good are long-term, with the format to be tweaked each year to keep it fresh and exciting. Kat also intends to include more charities in future. “I’ve got a five-year plan with this. I want to get twenty grand or more every year and I want Fashion for Good to highlight these issues,” says Kat. “I want this to be the biggest thing. I’m not quite taking over the world but I want to be taking over the county!”
The Fashion for Good weekend will take place at Brooklands Hotel in Weybridge on Friday November 9 and Saturday November 10. For more information or to get involved as a volunteer, sponsor or participant, see the website, www.fashionforgood.co.uk, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow the event on Facebook and Twitter. Keep reading Surrey Life magazine for further news and updates!