Jenna Leighton in FashionFest: Photo by Diana Waring
Jenna Leighton on the catwalk in last years'
FashionFEST. File photo by Diana Waring

FashionFEST strut

By Karla Araujo - June 22, 2006

This Saturday at 3 pm, two dozen of the Vineyard's top designers and boutiques will display summer's hottest fashions at the scenic waterfront Boch house in Edgartown. A fundraiser for the Vineyard Nursing Association (VNA), FashionFEST 2 is the nonprofit agency's second annual fashion show featuring men's, women's, and children's clothing and accessories.

Produced by New York events manager Peter Browne of APB Events, the show will showcase 35 models of all ages from the Vineyard. Personal style consultant Holly Getty, also of New York, will discuss fashion trends and style points with the audience. Dancers from The Yard, the Island's own performing arts colony, are slated to appear during transitions in the show. The event will be held rain or shine.

According to Barbara Welsh, director of development and communication for the VNA, admission to FashionFEST 2 includes specialty cocktails, hors d'oeuvres from Lobster Tales, the fashion show, a silent auction, raffle, goodie bags, and an opportunity to purchase the apparel and accessories exhibited.

"We have some fabulous items to bid on this year," she said, "including a personal shopping consultation in New York, spa packages, Kenneth Cole products, and much more."

The VNA was established in 1984 to provide personalized, high quality home health care to Island residents of all ages, from infants to the elderly. The agency also offers free breast and cervical cancer screenings through its Women's Health Network. The VNA's team of registered nurses and other health-care professionals make more than 14,000 patient visits a year. This event, along with several other upcoming fundraisers this summer and fall, helps the agency raise the revenues needed to bridge the gap between the real cost of home health care services and the rate of reimbursement from Medicare and private insurance companies.

Nicole Bilzerian, co-owner of The Great Put-On in Edgartown, explained why she and her husband Kenneth decided to participate in the event: "This is our second year," she said. "I believe in the Vineyard Nursing Association and what they do. I lost my mom to lung cancer at 62. Finding quality care was the hardest part."

Ms. Bilzerian will be joined by other Vineyard retailers and designers, including In the Pink, Petunia's, Lorraine Parish, Bumblydee Designs, Timeless Treasures, Bryn Walker, and others.

"I've had my store for 11 years," Gerda O'Rourke, owner of Vineyard Haven's Timeless Treasures, said. "FashionFEST gives us a chance to show off the Island's eclectic styles. It's also a great fundraiser for a good cause and a fun day out for women."

Both event producer Peter Browne and Ms. Welsh of the VNA credit the event committee, participating retailers and the show's 55 volunteers for their many hours of hard work. This year's show is dedicated in memory of Vineyard resident Margaret Hall who received care from the agency and attended last year's FashionFEST 1 with daughter Dori Clark, also an Island resident.

FashionFest, Saturday, June 24, 3 pm, Boch Estate, Edgartown. Advance tickets: Katama General Store, Past & Presents, and Petunia's, Edgartown; It's in the Bag and Tisbury Antiques, Vineyard Haven; Larsen's Fish Market, Menemsha, or by calling the VNA at 508-696-0784. Also available at the door. Reserved seats $125, general admission, $75.

Karla Araujo is a tennis instructor and freelance writer who lives in Key West, Fla., and Martha's Vineyard.