Fashion 150 — women empowerment through 15 decades of fashion

Dress for Success Calgary (DFSC) hosted its signature event on June 1 to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. Fashion 150 highlighted 15 decades of women’s evolution through fashion; showcased by Sophia Models with outfits provided by the Lougheed House, Used House of Vintage, Blondie Boutique, and Hudson’s Bay.

Calgary Stampede Indian Princess, Savanna Sparvier — Photo by Casey K Photography

Ayden Majid, DFSC Board Chair, kicked-off the evening with a short introduction about Dress for Success and announced some big news: DFSC was selected as the charity of choice for the Calgary Women’s Show, and DFSC will be partnering with Boyden to extend the services available to help women achieve economic independence. Such exciting news to begin the evening!

The fashion show kicked-off with emcee BR Prirri, fashion consultant, guiding the audience through the decades of women’s fashion. DFSC was honoured to have the 2017 Calgary Stampede Indian Princess, Savanna Sparvier from the Siksika First Nations, begin the show with her traditional dress as a reminder of Canada’s First Nation history and culture.

Dress from the 1800s — Photo by Harry Virdi Photography

Next up, a gorgeous floor-length dress from the 1800s and the Belle Epoque era of fashion; it seems as though we mainly see these styles now in costume and wedding fashions. This decade was generalized by restrictive garments and corsets

The 1920s, or the roaring twenties, saw a dramatic shift and very daring change to the styles worn at the turn of the century. Women began dressing more for comfort abandoning restrictive styles and corsets, even adopting wearing trousers. There were revolutions against everything, from prohibition and women not having the right to vote. Our model wore the flapper girl style, with lots of applause from the audience. New closures were invented, like zippers and hooks freeing women from the tied up closure style of the previous eras.

Fashion from the 1940s — Photo by Casey K Photography

The model for the 1930s wore a sleek number reflecting the age of elegance. Fashion came to a grinding halt at the end of the decade though as fabric and dyes were heavily used by the government during World War II. Women were entering the job force at numbers higher than ever seen before and were pushing to be freed from the obligation of wearing dresses for work.

Fashion from the end of the 30s to the mid-40s was based on ingenuity and repurposing. During the 1940s, nylon was in short supply as it was used for parachutes for the war effort. This was the first-time women began to abandon wearing stockings with their dresses, although some women would draw a line up the back of their legs to make it appear as though they were fortunate to have access to nylon.

1950s fashion — Photo by Casey K Photography

The 1950s brought rebellious styles with shorter hemlines. Non-organic fabrics were created, such as polyester, allowing for easier garment care. Trousers finally established their place in fashion rather than just function and more fitted styles came in, including shorter styles like pedal pushers.

The fashion from the 1970s featured our model wearing clothing from the hippie movement (see banner image — photo by Harry Virdi Photography). People and clothing were freer than ever wearing; anything from the still beloved maxi dress to the equally loved mini.

Our model for the 1980s was welcomed with roars and whistles from the audience (see banner photo). She epitomized this decade perfectly: a bold look with big shoulders and a large, metallic belt. The silhouette changed square tops and tight-fitting bottoms, and ranged from neon spandex and body suits that left nothing to the imagination to big hair. Music was a huge influencer of fashion on this era, with everyone wanting to look like their favourite singer.

1990s grunge wear — Photo by Harry Virdi Photography

Our model for the 1990s, a decade of anti-fashion, featured grunge wear, illustrating that all women are as versatile as their clothing. Fashion from this era included oversized sweaters, flannel shirts, lots of denim, and solid colours. Our model strutted this baggy look with a camo shirt tied around her waste and the choker necklace.

The show concluded with our present day fashion, which featured a silk romper that showed a bit of mixture styles and fabrics from the previous outfits displayed.

The evening was a night to remember by more than 130 attendees. Through Fashion 150 and DFSC’s boutique spring clothing sale, we raised more than $11,500 that will benefit DFSC to continue its mission.

DFSC is 100 per cent volunteer run and with our dedicated volunteer base, we have been able to suit women for job interviews and provide them with the resources to be successful when they launch their careers. To date, DFSC has served more than 100 women in 2017.

Fashion 150 was a night to remember because of the generous donations and volunteer work from the Calgary community. A special thank you to:

  • DFSC volunteers and Board of Directors
  • Brookfield Residential
  • Hugessen Consulting
  • BR Pirri, Fashion Stylist
  • Sophia Models
  • Savanna Sparvier, Calgary Stampede Indian Princess
  • Lougheed House
  • Used House of Vintage
  • Blondie Boutique
  • Hudson’s Bay
  • DJ Ross Al Ghul
  • Harry Virdi Photography
  • Casey K Photography
  • Malach Verlaan Photographie
  • ThirtyOne Gifts
  • All our attendees
  • And so many more local businesses who helped us make this event a success

Originally published at calgary.dressforsuccess.org.

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