New York Fashion on the Grand Rapids Stage

 photos by Two Eagles Marcus

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Think that a New York style fashion show requires a 12-hour drive to the “Big Apple?” On October 20, the Van Andel Institute (VAI) in downtown Grand Rapids was transformed into scene from any Fashion Week catwalk. “Couture for a Cure” featured fall trends from Leigh’s and a preview from New York fashion designer, Douglas Hannant, Spring 2012 collection. Hannant’s designs was inspired by 1930’s Shanghai jazz and embodies an aristocratic style that is always flawless in fashion.

“It leaves a woman feeling special,” said Hannant when discussing the attitude represented in his collection. The outfits are created with influences from the arts and Chinese culture and are made to accompany women leading a full lifestyle so she can look great while living her Uptown way of life.

Guests at the event certainly had the chance to live that life for a night with a cocktail reception, a plethora of fine cuisine, hors d’oeuvres — and an entire table dedicated to sweets, rightly named “The Candy Bar.”

“Everyone is dressed gorgeous,” said a couple of guests gathered around a table, enjoying the star treatment and socializing with friends. “The food is fantastic!”

All guests were certainly happy to be part of the sold out event. Even Dave and Carol Van Andel were pleased to see the biggest turnout yet for the 7th annual fashion show.

“Our first year we had maybe 50 people…” says Carol. “More like 25!” laughs Dave.

Moving “Couture for a Cure” to the VAI allowed the event to expand and grow for the past six years.

“I feel great. Excited!” said Carol as she talks about what makes “Couture for a Cure” so special. “It’s a collaboration of Van Andel Institute and Leigh’s because we’re supporting a good cause.”

And the cause couldn’t be better with 100% of the proceeds going to disease research and science education at the VAI. Every year, Carol updates the event guests on research accomplishments they have had, letting attendees know that their donation isn’t is making a global impact on medical discoveries and reachable cures.

“Where the money goes is important,” says Carol. “You have to know where the money goes and we let them know.” Before the fashion show started, Carol took the stage and announced that the past year’s research had discovered an anti-malaria drug that represses inflammation and a side-effect protein that will predict the spread of neck cancer. The VAI’s research has made a positive impact on working to find a cure for diseases, particularly cancer.

“It’s amazing, cutting-edge research with key discoveries for patients with life-threatening diseases.” Leigh’s owner Rebecca Wierda said before the fashion of her store’s Fall 2011 collection took the stage.

The crowd cheered as Leigh’s four categories of fashion inspirations took the stage:
• Paint it Black, with an urban gothic look that smartly uses proportion, texture, and shine in its clothing
• I Was a Ye Ye Girl, a “deliberately naïve style based in the music scene”
• Haute to Trot
• Social Meaning

Afterword, the crowd received a sneak peek of Hannant’s Spring 2012 collection. There was much applauding at the pieces that exemplify a beautiful Uptown chic attitude. Texture and lace were the theme with the wonderfully woven and rousing outfits of the evening.

100% of the proceeds from "Couture for a Cure" benefit disease research and science education at the VAI

Guests left with a fashion surplus of ides, the desire to fill their closets with new trends, and a swag bag brimming with gifts from sponsors of “Couture for a Cure”. If this event was any indication of future VAI experiences to come, then we can expect some exciting events and even more discoveries in disease research.

The styles on the runway before us remind us that fashion doesn’t exist in dresses alone. It exists in our attitude and the way we live every day.




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