Fashion for philanthropy

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April 4, 2014 // UPDATED 2:31 pm - April 15, 2014
By: Alyssa Bluhm // Murphy News Service
Alyssa Bluhm // Murphy News Service

Twin Cities designer Emma Berg’s latest collection will be presented April 22 at the Ritz Theater as part of a philanthropic fashion event inspired by 10 young women from several local Boys & Girls Clubs.

Berg’s spring/summer 2014 collection, titled “I Am Everything,” is an array of prom dresses crafted to match the personalities and preferences of the girls chosen to wear them. Program directors at each Boys & Girls Club picked one girl from the club to participate in the event — Berg’s only requirement was that she be doing well in school. Following the fashion show on April 22, each girl will get to keep her dress.

"The event is to celebrate these girls for working hard and to inspire them going forward," Berg said. “They’re in a time in their lives where they’re asking, ‘What do I want to be?’ They can be anything."

Berg began collaborating with the girls a few months ago to find a design that represented each one. After looking to the girls’ own styles and their celebrity style icons, the result is an array of dresses in colors Berg described as peach parfait, bold melon peach, and lavenders and purples. “They are very sweet colors,” Berg said.

In contrast to the sugary color scheme, the girls will be wearing combat boots provided by Dr. Martens, a sponsor of the event. “A lot of the girls couldn’t walk in heels,” Berg said. “Wearing Dr. Martens just ties back to the usefulness of the shoes.”

Kyanna Harris, who was chosen by the Southside Village Boys & Girls Club to participate in the event, said the experience has given her a real idea of what it would be like to be a model. “I’ve always wanted to model. Practicing the walk was really hard — I’ve never done it before,” Harris said.

The I Am Everything event will begin with a collection by Claire Ward, a University of Minnesota alumna; a segment presented by MOTTO, a Minneapolis boutique; and Berg’s fall/winter collection.

Titled “The Curse of Sisyphus” after the Greek myth of the same name, Berg’s fall/winter collection will present an aesthetic of uneasiness with dresses that are slightly tilted or carrying the burden of imperfection. Blue-collar jobs and military armor inspire the collection, which is commentary on the societal curse of income brackets. “It’s like a put-together Warholian army, but in dark tones,” Berg said.

Just as Berg’s inspiration comes from her subjects, so does she inspire them. As Harris waits with excitement for the approaching show, she already feels the empowerment Berg meant to bestow on the girls. “Every girl should be herself,” Harris said. “There will always be people who will like you for you.” 

Alyssa Bluhm is studying journalism at the University of Minnesota.

IF YOU GO ... 

"I Am Everything" fashion show
Where: Ritz Theater, 345 13th Ave. NE
When: April 22, 6 p.m.
Tickets: $25