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CHICAGO On Sunday night, local boutique chain Akira and Imerman Angels, a charity that provides one-on-one cancer support, teamed up to host the sixth annual Garden of Eden fashion show benefit. Held at Galleria Marchetti, the event, which had a “Tudor Rose” theme, showcased Akira's fall merchandise with a runway presentation and an on-site shopping area.
“When planning the annual benefit, we typically find inspiration in a more classic theme that revolves around a historical time period,” said Maggie Morgan, Akira's vice president, who oversaw production with Imerman Angels events and PR director Laura Alexander. ”We had yet to conquer a Shakespearean theme.” During the hour-long fashion show, which took place in a tented area hung with chandeliers, models traipsed down the runway in clothing that incorporated “Shakespearean details,” such as “ruffles, lace, exaggerated shoulders, waistcoats, and embellishment,” Morgan said. At the entrance to the tent, ushers sported ruffled collars inspired by the bard.
After receiving confirmation that Fabrice Calmels, a principal dancer from the Joffrey Ballet, would be available to perform at the gathering, Morgan said she and her team decided to “incorporate a performance element" into the event. During the cocktail hour, which offered appetizers and cash bars that poured Belvedere vodka drinks, Calmels performed in the courtyard while Lee England Junior, a hip-hop violinist, played along. More cocktail-hour entertainment came from the Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band, and Morgan noted that all of the performers donated their time.
To bring awareness to the evening's beneficiary, Imerman Angels founder Jon Imerman made a brief speech from the runway before the fashion show began, and volunteers from the organization were on hand to sell logo T-shirts.
The event, which included an after-party at Lumen, ultimately drew 1,500 guests through social networking sites, a more traditional publicity campaign that included emails to local press, and promotions in Akira's boutiques. The benefit's take, raised through ticket sales and a silent auction with lots such as a helicopter ride and a Marc Jacobs bag, is still being tabulated.