Food, fashion and fun filled Chicago Street Theatre Wednesday evening for the third annual Little Black Dress Party. The party included an array of events culminating in a fashion show of clothing from local businesses Bargain Barn and Once Upon a Child.
Partygoers – many sporting their own chic little black dresses – enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeurves courtesy of Pikk’s Tavern, minute manicures from Salon Diva, and a silent auction of jewelry and artwork.
Backstage, the models primped and preened with the professional help of hair stylists and makeup artists from Beauty Pro and Salon Diva.
Bargain Barn owner Tevlyn Schwerd was excited to partner with CST to create a unique fundraiser. Funds from the LBD Party go to CST to keep the theatre operational – everything from electricity to educational programming.
“The emphasis is on affordable fashion,” CST member Dona Henry said.
Bargain Barn offers new boutique style clothing from designer brands offered at steep discounts. “We have everything from Gap to Michael Kors,” said Schwerd.
Once Upon a Child specializes in gently used children’s clothing.
With so many clothing styles, the fashion show required a wide range of models.
Models from age 1 to 70 strutted their stuff in the show.
“We show that people of all ages, shapes, and sizes can look good and feel good without breaking the bank,” said Schwerd.
Sporting trends of Spring and Summer 2014, the models embraced their inner divas to sashay, strut, and sweep across the runway.
“The models that we used – many of them are from the theatre and many are local celebrities – fun and energetic people from the community,” said Schwerd.
Blowing kisses to the audience, shaking their hips - and even in one memorable incidence stripping – the models charmed the audience to earn laughs and applause.
But getting ready for the runway took an awful lot of backstage work. Makeup artist Melissa Marshall rapidly painted her models faces. This was her third year participating in the LBD Party. Marshall owns Beauty Pros – where makeup really is an art form.
“I love working fashion shows,” said Marshall. “I love the people and all the hustle and bustle of the backstage environment. This is like a real fashion show – I get to be really creative.”
After being prettied up for the runway, the models still had some work in front of them.
“I’m a little scared,” said model Maddie Blaney. “I don’t really know what I’m doing – I’ll just smile a lot.”
And all the models – with their antics and charisma – brought smiles to audience members.
The event served the dual purpose of raising funds and promoting awareness of the arts in Valparaiso.
“Supporting the arts in the community,” said CST development director Kelly Hite. “It’s what makes Valparaiso great.”
“Culture is very important in Valparaiso,” said Pikk’s Tavern general manager Aaron O’Reilly. “It’s important to support small theatres like this.”
“Valparaiso is really great for dining, but you have to have somewhere to go afterwards,” added Hite.
The funds raised at the LBD Party ensure that CST can continue serving the community by providing public performances and art education.
“It allows us to keep doing the art, the theatre, and the music,” said sound director Paul Brown.