Nonprofits are constantly coming up with new ways to raise money: nights at the races, golf tournaments, auctions and theme dinners. But one tried-and-true formula that never fails is a fashion show. Just ask the Partners for Quality Foundation. Its annual Pittsburgh Fashion Story event has drawn in $400,000 over the past 12 years.
Benefitting Partners for Quality’s subsidiary, the Allegheny Health Initiative, this year’s event on Sept. 16 will feature clothes from seven local boutiques carrying women’s and men’s fashions. Among them will be Juju, a vintage boutique that opened this past March.
“I’m really pleased to be included with these amazing boutiques and designers,” says Juju owner Leslie McAllister. “As I’ve gotten to understand a little more about Partners for Quality, it’s really an honor to be part of such a wonderful nonprofit organization.”
Past Pittsburgh Fashion Story themes have included a masked ball where guests wore intricate and outlandish creations; a jazz-inspired show where guests were decked out in Art Deco togs; and then there was the year that Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre dancers were part of the show.
“I think fashion is relatable to so many people. I think it’s a nice way of bringing communities together. There’s something exciting about [fashion shows]. I think people love to see the ways things are put together — what do I wear, how do I wear it,” says McAllister, who has helped organize the event in the past. “When that kind of thing partners with something that’s important in the community, it becomes a good way to do something fun and give back to the community at the same time.”
The fashion show will feature fall clothing and accessories, and McAllister says she plans to showcase items like maxi dresses, turbans and ’70s pieces like bell-bottoms. Referring to the store’s style as “gypsy witch,” she says Juju carries a lot of velvet and brocade fabrics.
“It’s very eclectic. The fabrics I have are very lush,” McAllister says. “The stuff I offer has a very hippie bohemian sophisticated vibe to it.”
“Lush, lush lush,” she adds for emphasis, and you can almost feel the fabrics.
The other featured boutiques will be The Garage at Charles Spiegel, Kristi Boutique, MODA, Roberta Weissburg Leathers, Boutique La Passerelle and Dina Ellen.
The Allegheny Children’s Initiative is a behavioral mental-health agency in Allegheny County that provides services to children, adolescents and their families. The clients it works with encounter a wide range of issues including autism, bullying, depression, self-harm, learning disorders and anxiety.
“The goal of ACI is to keep the family unit together. Often times when a child is having problems, they can be placed outside the home, making it very difficult for the family unit to run smoothly,” PFQ Foundation development director Jodie Tabono wrote in an email to City Paper. “By working with the child either in the home, school or after-school program, the families can be engaged in the process and assist with supporting the needs of the child.”
Approximately 500 children are served by ACI annually.
“Everyone wants to see children succeed in life, and by helping support our agency, we can help these children who are struggling at a point in their life, and really help them succeed,” says Bobbi Reidenbach, ACI executive director.
Funds raised from this year’s Pittsburgh Fashion Story will go toward paying for things ACI families are unable to afford.
“The funds help to pay for things like a school uniform that a kid has to wear,” says Reidenbach. “Or a child might participate in an after-school activity like football, basketball or soccer, and the parents just don’t have the funds to pay for their sporting equipment. A lot of the kids need that social interaction. Or it might be for school supplies to go back to school. They need their crayons and backpacks.”