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UMass students to strut the runway for Safe Passage

Sisters on the Runway has held the event at UMass three times in as many years as part of their efforts to fight domestic violence and help support shelters and programs for its victims.

Kelsey Stokes, co-president of the UMass chapter, said that while some people might not see the connection between fashion and domestic violence, a runway show makes perfect sense to her.

“Not only does fashion draw in a lot of women, but it’s about female empowerment. We want them to feel empowered by what they’re wearing,” Stokes said Friday. “Walking down the runway is like their lives; they want to walk down the street and the hallways safely and feel like strong, empowered women.”

At the event at the Campus Center auditorium from 5 to 9 p.m, UMass student models will strut their stuff on the runway in everything from spring trends to evening wear.

All the proceeds from the event will go to Northampton’s Safe Passage, which shelters and supports victims of domestic violence.

Almost all the clothes will be available for purchase through a silent auction. Stokes said some of the clothes come from three student designers, who go by the names Arya, Jaurice and Margaret.

“This year we reached out to more online companies to see if we could get more brand names,” she said. The companies sent them hot spring looks from national clothes companies UsTrendy, YesWalker, Sabo Skirt, Black Halo, Julie Mollo, Rory Beca, Nicholas K. and Francesca’s, she said.

The silent auction will be held before the show, which will open with an address by Marianne Winters, the executive director at Safe Passage. The event will also feature a DJ, raffles, desserts and a “mocktail” bar with non-alcoholic drinks.

Stokes said the 2012 fashion show raised $4,000 and they are hoping to raise at least that much this year. The 430-seat auditorium usually sells out, she added.

Sisters on the Runway is a national organization that has raised $50,000 to combat domestic violence. It was founded in 2005 by three Montclair, N.J., teenagers who wanted to find an interesting, relatable way to support the fight against domestic violence. The UMass chapter is now one of three nationally and its 55 members work for the cause through events like the Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage in Northampton and a “kick-a-thon” kickboxing event, according to a statement.

Tickets to the fashion show are $20 for adults, $15 for students and free for children under 10. They are available before the event in Resource Room 208 of the UMass Student Union or at the door.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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