Last week, right before my trip back home I was invited by my esteemed colleague AG to attend a fundraising benefit for the High School of Fashion Industries. It was an evening that not only honored Isabel and Ruben Toledo but showcased the amazing creativity of the youth of the next generation.
When I first heard of the HSFI I was extremely intrigued and almost jealous of the wonderful educational opportunities that these fashion loving teens have been provided. The High School was originally launched as a trade school in 1926 to train the work force for the garment industry in New York. At the start, most of the the students were immigrants or children of immigrants who were working towards a better life in the USA. As the industry changed, so did the high school. It is also interesting to note that the High School is the predecessor to FIT and the only school of it's kind in the East Coast and possibly the world. In fact FIT was started to offer a place for the graduates of the High School of Fashion Industries to seek further education.
Artwork to be Auctioned by Ruben Toledo
The evening started with cocktails, cucumber water and delicious appetizers while everyone mixed and mingled. I found myself enchanted by some of the artwork that was on display of not only Ruben Toledo (which is currently being auctioned on Charity Buzz) but also by that of the students.
When the ceremony began I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the character of the Toledos’ and it was interesting to hear how their reporter friend recalled the memories. I thought what a sweet pair of talented individuals. I also was amazed to learn that Isabel actually does not sketch and she describes her ideas to her husband who is given the task of solidifying her vision.
As for the fashion show component, I was blown away. The high school students created a large volume of work that spanned across multiple categories including Daywear, Eveningwear, Lingerie, Denim, Swimwear, Bridalwear and Lady Gaga inspired fantasy. While there were a few tell tale signs if a young age (could the skirts be any shorter?) for most part I was impressed by the quality, fit and detail these students put into the pieces. When I was in High School fashion class I was happy to sew a dress from a pattern. Meanwhile these students are designing and making their ideas into a reality. The next generation is a force to be reckoned with.
To end the evening the deserving teachers were heartily cheered on by the students and industry players including the Toledos’. It was adorable to watch them wholeheartedly give the teachers a standing ovation.