UNITY fashion show celebrates 10-year anniversary


Katie Pach/Daily Senior Staffer

Medill sophomore Briana Williams struts down the runway at the UNITY Fashion Show this Sunday. Now in its 10th year, the group chose a new beneficiary and expanded its programming to better educate and entertain students.

Rachel Holtzman, Reporter

For its 10th annual show, UNITY Charity Fashion Show expanded its programming and partnered with a new charity.

UNITY, Northwestern’s biggest charity fashion show, hosted its annual show Sunday night at the Hilton Orrington, 1710 Orrington Ave., before an audience of about 200. For the first time, the organization partnered with GirlForward — a Chicago-based charity that provides education and mentorship for refugee teenage girls — marking a break from its four-year partnership with local nonprofit NoStigmas.

Communication senior Carmen Mackins, UNITY co-president, said the group decided to partner with GirlForward in response to the escalating refugee and humanitarian crises in Syria and eastern Europe.

UNITY also bolstered its fundraising efforts this year with additional programming. In past years, fundraising efforts focused on the fashion show and UNITY Fashion Week, a series of events leading up to the show itself. This year, however, the UNITY team added other events, including an open mic night and “UNITY Gallery Night: A Night of Empowerment,” Communication junior and UNITY co-president Angel Yu said.

Mackins said these events combined the fashion and philanthropic focuses of UNITY under the larger umbrella of education and entertainment.

“We wanted our members and the Northwestern community to have a more hands-on experience with our charity,” Yu said. “This takes the beneficiary relationship a step further … and grows the extent of our impact as a campus.”

Other events included a Blaze Pizza profit share, a makeup competition to select UNITY’s chief makeup artist and a sewing and knitting workshop with Ciao Bella Sewing.

Yu said she hopes UNITY’s expansion will help connect future beneficiaries not only to UNITY members, but to the Northwestern campus as whole. She added that the level of human connection to UNITY’s charity of choice adds a greater level of meaning to the group’s work.

The annual fashion show itself has grown over the past 10 years, first starting as a small-stage production in the Louis Room in Norris University Center before moving to the Hilton Orrington in 2013. Sunday’s show featured student performances by Refresh Dance Crew, a cappella group Treblemakers, rapper Prez Harris and music group Dial Up.

“We want to make sure we stay true to our cultural roots,” Mackins said.

Communication junior and model co-head Jacqueline Lunsford said giving the stage to a diverse group of models and performers was an important part of setting up the show, avoiding a one-note presentation while representing an array of talents and voices.

“What’s really special is that we get to do a high-quality, big production event that can grab more attention than a smaller thing on campus might have the opportunity to do,” Lunsford said.

Correction: A previous version of the caption on this story misstated Briana Williams’ school. Williams is in Medill. The Daily regrets the error. 

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