Fashion as philanthropy at 'I Am Everything'

JAHNA PELOQUIN | Updated 4/23/2014

Minneapolis designer Emma Berg created 10 custom prom gowns for Twin Cities teens, proving fashion can be transformative.

 

Look by Emma Berg

Look by Emma Berg

A lot of fashion shows promote good causes through financial support. On Tuesday night, a fashion show dubbed “I Am Everything” took fashion-as-philanthropy to the next level, proving that clothing can also have a transformative effect.

The show saw the debut of two new collections by Minneapolis-based fashion designer Emma Berg on the Ritz Theater stage in Northeast Minneapolis. The second collection, dubbed “I Am Everything,” was the raison d'etre of the event, in which Berg worked with ten girls selected by the Boys & Girls Club of the Twin Cities to create their dream prom gowns.

The show kicked off with a salon-style presentation by emerging Minneapolis designer Claire Ward, who previously had interned with Berg. The five-piece capsule collection was clearly inspired by aquatic life, taking spring’s scuba trend to more literal heights. A pair of metallic cropped pants were accented with fin-like ruffles along the sides; skirts and tops featured scalloped, fin-like hems. The metallic fabrics conjured the iridescent shimmer of fish scales, punctuated with pops of neon reminiscent of the colors of tropical fish. Equally inspired and well-tailored, the collection solidified Ward as one to watch.

Following a segment of men’s and women’s looks from Uptown boutique Motto, Berg presented her fall/winter 2014 collection “Curse of Sisyphus,” named for the Greek myth in which a king is punished by having to roll a boulder up a hill for infinity. Set to Morrissey’s melancholy cover of “Moonriver,” the army of nearly 20 looks were rendered in an mostly black palette of luxe wool, sheer, leather and silk, styled down with Dr. Martens boots, thigh-highs, dark purple lips and undone hair. Meant as a commentary on the “societal curse” of the cyclical struggles inherent in the current state of the economy, Berg took inspiration from blue-collar workwear and military armor, with asymmetrical lines, sculptural draping, protective layering and utilitarian details shaping the collection, as in a pair of drop-crotch washed silk culottes paired with a caped crop top. The collection appeared as a darker twin to her spring/summer 2013 line, “The Yellow Wood.”

But leave it to the ever-optimistic Berg to end the show on a positive note. Set to the sounds of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” and Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls),” the designer’s prom collection, dubbed “I Am Minneapolis,” was modeled by ten teenage girls from the Boys & Girls Club of the Twin Cities. The candy-colored confections ranged from bias-cut silk satin to tiered silk chiffon, as well as a finale floral gown hand-painted by Minneapolis designer Max Lohrbach. The girls’ energetic, confident runway walks (thanks in part to runway lessons from Vision’s Teqen Zéa-Aida) made it clear they truly loved how they looked.

 

Looks by Claire Ward

Look by Emma Berg

Look by Emma Berg

Look by Emma Berg

Look by Emma Berg

Look by Emma Berg

Look by Emma Berg