On Monday, February 25th, spirits were high and you could almost smell spring in the air at Holt Renfrew Bloor Street for the Well Dressed for Spring charity fashion show to benefit WellSpring. The sold-out evening began with ample appetizers and no shortage of media cameras, with Holt Renfrew fashion shows always some of the best attended. Despite the odd supportive male face in the crowd, the space was filled with a sea of women of all ages. The cocktail party and fashion show took place amidst all kinds of fashions and colours for spring, with pastels, crisp white jackets and brightly patterned summer dresses as far as the eye could see on the department store’s third floor. The occasion was to raise money for Wellspring, a non-profit organization that raises funds to support individuals, family members and professional caregivers who are touched by cancer, at any stage, without need of medical referral. This includes coping skills, expressive therapies, educational workshops and presentations, and cancer rehab programs.
Refreshingly, the fashion show did not feature your typical models – though many had the perfected strut of a seasoned runway regular. The runway was graced by some of the city’s most influential faces, all of whom had been affected by cancer. The fashion experts at Holt Renfrew dressed the leaders in business, sports, business and media head-to-toe in some of our favourite designers and brands. Emceed by Arlene Dickinson, each model’s personal story about how cancer has affected them was told, producing more than a few teary eyes in the audience. The stories left us inspired and the fashion left us craving the warmer months ahead.
The show’s models included Laura Gainey, Senior Vice President, RBC Insurance; Martha Fell, CEO, Women in Capital Markets; Paul Henderson, 1972 Summit Series alumnus; Mary Ito, Host, Fresh Air, CBC Radio; Lynda Morrison, past CEO, Wellspring; Diane Osak, associate director, Quality & Risk Management, Ernst & Young; Sandie Rinaldo, anchor, CTV National News; Dr. Marla Shapiro, Medical Contributor to CTV’s Canada AM and Medical Consultant for CTV News and CTV News Channel, Host Dr. Marla and Friends and Mark Standish president and co-CEO, RBC Capital Markets and co-head, Investor and Treasury Services, among others.
Perhaps the most inspirational story, and a runway walk that prompted a supportive standing ovation, was that of surprise guest and model Linda Lewis. The journalist is the founder and former editor-in-chief of Moore Magazine and a cervical cancer survivor who was recently diagnosed with leukemia, is currently undergoing chemotherapy (and proudly sporting a wig-free head) and awaiting a bone marrow transplant this month. She is an active advocate for leukemia research (check out @lindaonleukemia), is a member of Well Spring, and was a model last year.
Some of our favourite looks? Radio host Mary Bitove in Stella McCartney print jeans and a blue Balenciaga bag, Lynda Morrison decked out in Armani Black Label and an Armani handbag, hockey legend Paul Henderson in a Paul Smith blazer and Tod’s loafers, and Laura Gainey in a Burberry white jacket, silk blouse from Lanvin (that was met with gasps) along with a pair of Jimmy Choos.
Once the show ended, the evening continued with raffle prizes and private shopping in the closed store. Raffle prizes included a Michael Kors $3000 shopping spree and a selection of accessories worth more than $2000; a guided shopping tour (and spending money) with three of your friends among the of best spring fashions with a lunch at Holts Cafe. Other prizes included a Holts salon and spa package, a three-day holistic juice cleanse and a floral arrangement for spring from Designs by JP.