Monday, March 31, 2014

Christian Fashion Week: The Mission

News flash:  Christian Fashion Week is NOT just about fashion.  Shocking, I know. There was definitely lots of sartorial goodness to be had, but I will save that for my next post. First, there are more pressing matters to discuss.

It’s taken me a couple of months to fully process my experience at the second annual Christian Fashion Week held in Tampa, FL in February. It was bigger, better and more far-reaching than last year’s event. For example, there were two nights of runway shows instead of one, many more and varied vendors, and a week’s worth of activities and seminars for attendees, including an International Day of Prayer for the fashion industry.

What I appreciate most about Jose, Mayra, Wil and Tamy – the founders of Christian Fashion Week whom I am proud to call my friends – is the depth with which they attack their purpose. Their web site states: “Christian Fashion Week exists to create a series of international fashion shows and events around the idea of fashion from a Christian worldview, reflecting common values such as modesty, boldness, and integrity. While we acknowledge that these values are not exclusively Christian, our faith is a unifying factor for these ideals, and a viable marketplace for fashion designers who believe in them.”

But what CFW has accomplished is more extensive and impactful than most people realize. It’s not just about showcasing high-quality, stylish clothing that enhances self-worth by letting a person’s spirit and personality shine brighter than their body type, but about showing how fashion can promote our faith in so many influential ways.

I met Amanda, founder of Divine Image Cosmetics. I was immediately drawn to her because she was wearing purple pants – my favorite color. I didn’t know then that purple is the color she uses in her company’s logo and packaging because it stands for royalty and trustworthy leadership. She donates proceeds from the sale of her products to organizations such as Project Rescue, which ministers to women and children worldwide impacted by sexual slavery.

The energetic father-daughter team behind the Live Family, Live Happy booth chatted with us about their t-shirt line that promotes family living. Their designs are funny, colorful and inspirational, cheering in support of family.

Iris’s smile drew me immediately to her booth. Accents by Iris is an affordable jewelry line that is fashionable and affordable. It doesn’t have to cost a lot to look beautiful, and Iris proved that. I couldn’t help but buy two rings from her, and I think of her sweet spirit every time I wear them.

During the blogger lunch one afternoon, I sat at a table surrounded by talented, ambitious women who are on FIRE for the Lord. It was great to see Joelle, Ker-Leen (and Joe), and Christi, whom I had met at CFW last year. I enjoyed getting to know Ida, Aubrey, Stephanie, and other women working hard to glorify the Lord through blogging, vlogging, photography, singing, publishing, and event planning. I was inspired by each one of them.

I often say that when you’re working for the Lord, you might as well wear a target on your back – you have to expect the devil to attack. And while CFW got a lot of positive press from sites like Buzzfeed and Perez Hilton, interestingly it was fellow Christians who attacked the hardest. Incredibly, CFW founder Jose responded to each outburst and insult with a calm, rational response, without getting defensive, and with lots of humor! I can’t tell you how many people he won over by not being combative, but by appealing to reason with a huge dose of compassion. I have learned so much by his Christ-like response and example.

There were more than 300 attendees at CFW this year with an additional 11,000 online viewers. I want to focus on two of those attendees. Claire, age 12, and Paris, age 14, were sitting behind me during the second runway show. All night I heard them oohing and aahing the fashions that came out on the catwalk. I turned to speak with them and their mothers after the show. They said the show was “awesome” and they loved it. Paris said the clothes were “still modest and adorable” and Claire agreed, saying she “would wear the swimsuits.” Their moms, Nicole and Melissa, told me the girls wanted to be fashion designers.

CFW is making an impact not just on the international world of fashion, but also in the hearts of young girls. While it provides a platform for emerging and established designers, vendors and bloggers, it also provides inspiration for young women who want to be fashionable without compromising their values. In one fell swoop, CFW has glorified God in meaningful ways to an industry that has all but shut Him out as well as to those who looking for new ways to let Him in.

Stay tuned for a fashion update and pictures of the event – coming soon!

Christian Fashion Week,
Divine Image Cosmetics,
Live Family, Live Happy,
Joelle/My Sunday Dress,
Ker-Leen/Music. Fashion. Love.,
Ida/Beauty Talk Illustrated,
Aubrey Jackson,
Stephanie/Pretty Lovely Events,

OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.

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