Tuesday night, the Ritz Theater hosted designer Emma Berg's I Am Everything event. Hosted by Grant Whittaker, the night was about far more than fashion.
Berg's Spring/Summer 2014 collection, I Am Everything went beyond the runway. For the line, Berg worked with 10 high school seniors from the Boys & Girls Club of the Twin Cities on their prom dresses.
"It's a way for me to bring diverse perspectives into the design process, engage a broader audience in an often-exclusive experience, provide inspirations within the fashion community, and strive to motivate others to get involved," Berg wrote about her work on the project with the young women in the event's program.
The evening began with a presentation of designer Claire Ward's latest line, a structural collection of haute streetwear with bright yellows, reds, and prints. Uptown boutique Motto also showed off some runway fashion, featuring both women's apparel and menswear.
Berg gave the full house a preview of her Fall/Winter 2014 collection, Curse of Sisyphus. The name implies a certain darkness, and true to the spirit of the myth, Berg's looks were filled with plenty of jet-black leather and silk, with a couple white garments peeking through here and there. This small taste of Berg's line certainly had us curious what else she's got up those lovely silk sleeves.
Just before the I Am Everything line debuted, Whittaker joked about what Berg most wanted the audience to know about the collection: "Will you just tell them there's silk?"
The final part of the show was introduced by a short video that featured each young woman -- Jalayna, Karrina, Kyanna, Faith, Tiara, Mai Pa, Kaysha, Gao Hlee, Waverly, and Kayla -- to the audience for the first time. They talked not only about their inspiration for the dresses, but their hopes and plans for the future. Their passion for life and learning was infectious, and it's safe to say there were more than a few misty-eyed audience members as the lights came up on the stage.
The young women strutted their stuff one by one, rocking Doc Martens with their unique dresses. From floor-length, slinky gowns to ruffled wonders and hand-painted silk, each garment was one-of-a-kind, tailor made with Berg's expertise.
The young ladies looked every bit like prom royalty, but even better was the immense confidence radiating from all them. Prom can induce a lot of jitters in the best of circumstances, and it's an even more nerve-racking to show off your dress to a packed theater, but all 10 girls were composed and coiffed to perfection as they emerged from behind the curtains.
Rest assured, it wasn't a stuffy affair; they all shined their brightest under the spotlights by dancing, posing, and showing off their personalities. Of course, the audience greeted each of the students with roaring applause, whoops, and hollers as they flaunted their gowns with Pharrell's "Happy" playing in the background. Really, that was the takeaway from the evening: a sense of happiness and pride for these young women following their dreams and on their way to becoming the next generation of teachers and lawyers.
The day after the event, Berg expressed her gratitude on Facebook:
A big thank you everyone that was able to make it last night! We raised nearly $4,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities, and created an evening for 10 strong girls that they will remember forever!
We hope even more designers make high-profile events that empower young people like this into -- dare we say it -- a trend.