National First Responders Fund Fashion Show
Location: Ellis Street, near John’s Grill. Attendees: 150. Impact: $20,000 raised to support First Responder wellness programs.
Beneath cerulean Indian summer skies, the sensuous strains of Carlos Reyes’ violin echoed along a closed-off stretch of Ellis Street in front of historic John’s Grill, where guests gathered on November 1 at safely spaced tables in anticipation of a nonvirtual (!) fashion show.
Organized in just two weeks by San Francisco scene-makers and fashion-glam friends Farah Makras and Sonya Molodetskaya, this lively alfresco fete, featuring an elevated street-side podium, starred a show of ready-to-wear creations benefiting the National First Responders Fund.
“First responders are there for us, even on their worst days,” says NFRF founder Joe Alioto Veronese, who has served on mayoral commissions to the SFPD and SFFD. The fund provides services to first responders and their families, ranging from PTSD support to cancer prevention, toxic exposure, chemical dependency and mental wellness programs.
As regular habitués of Paris Fashion Week, Makras and Molodetskaya were forced this year to forgo their sartorial safari in the City of Light as COVID-19 canceled the next-to-the-catwalk thrill for thousands of international fashionistas. Here at home, our social lockdown landscape is equally lacking in large-scale, real-time experiences — whether delighting in designer trunk shows or sipping Champagne with more than five friends.
But Makras and Molodetskaya were determined to shake off our collective CV-19 malaise while supporting a worthy cause and local designers: Vasily Vein (who created pieces in collaboration with Molodetskaya, his longtime muse and founder of her own fashion label Major Obsessions), Altana Danzhalova (AD Couture Atelier in Burlingame), Lilit Safaryan (a Berkeley designer of modern bridal couture) and Zaal Dormishian (Zebra and Leopards), who not only creates exciting eco-couture but just graduated two years ago from Marin Academy.
With modest $75 tickets (including a delish three-course John’s Grill lunch), our dynamic duo sold out the event in just five hours. Makras and Molodetskaya were also inspired by restaurateur John Konstin, a Smuin Ballet trustee who’s hosted Ellis Street dance performances for his Sunday afternoon guests. “Showcasing Smuin in front of John’s Grill is also [possible] thanks to my colleague, Karin Flood (executive director, Union Square Business Improvement District), who kindly lets us store our outdoor furniture next door in her family’s Flood Building,” shares Konstin. “Whether it’s fashion or dance, people are dying to be together again and experience culture.”