TI Debuts at #LaoNow: Fashion Meets Philanthropy
On October 15, 2016, Legacies of War hosted its second annual fashion show, #LaoNow: Fashion Meets Philanthropy. Held in the heart of Manhattan, NYC, at Wallace Hall (St. Ignatius Church), the evening featured a Southeast Asian night market backdrop with Lao fusion tastings, performances, vendors, and live auction items. Most importantly, the night convened guests from all over to recognize the issue of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Laos and celebrate the progress made through increased advocacy and awareness.
A runway show curated by Monica Phromsavanh of ModaBox featured Lao and Lao American designers, including Article22, Chloe Dao, Suzette Gabriel-Schoebitz, KHANG, NAREE Handbags, Nokeo, Ock Pop Tok, Oskar Ly, Ora Designs, Passa Paa, Route 13, Saengthong Douangdara, and myself -- Tony Innouvong. Models styled in Lao-made and -inspired pieces dazzled the crowd as each graced the catwalk to the sounds of DJ Miss Joy. An eclectic array of ensembles highlighted the uniqueness of each designer. One of my favorite looks included a structured business fit on a female model wearing a TI bow tie repurposed from a traditional Lao sinh.
Towards the end of the evening, the mistress of ceremony, Catzie Vilayphonh of Laos In The House, led a live auction that consisted of handcrafted jewelry and one-of-a-kind art pieces. As if it couldn't get any better, bid paddles went up in excitement as Catzie called out dollar amounts for private dinners with well-known chefs Seng Luangrath (Thip Khao), James Syhabout (Commis + Hawker Fare), and Phet Schwader (Khe-Yo). Surely, a meal to be remembered. Proceeds from the auction helped to support the continuing efforts of Legacies of War to advocate for the removal of unexploded ordnance in Laos.
As the auction came to a close, the lights dimmed and a dance party broke out. Traditional Lao anthems and line dances were mandatory. Soul circles were formed to cheer on solo performances. The energy was contagious, and still is as I write this. #LaoNow: Fashion Meets Philanthropy was a historical moment for many, including myself. Closing out my first year in business with a fashion show debut was surreal, yet a beautiful reminder that working on your passion pays off. That if you truly desire and work vigorously for something, the universe will conspire in your favor. From here, it's upward. Look out for projects and collaborations in 2017.