When Estelle Norris was watching news of the earthquake in Haiti last year, she was deeply affected.
“That country has been hit super hard for hundreds of years and I just felt really inspired to do something,” she said.
“A lot of the major countries have basically robbed Haiti, they’ve brought them to such a level of poverty.”
She decided to do something she knows well – put on a fashion show to raise money for Doctors Without Borders, one of the many aid organizations working to re-build Haiti, and one of the most reliable.
“They try to get people to a point where they are self-reliant, which is really important.”
Norris is no stranger to fashion. She said she taught herself to sew at the age of twelve and during six years spent living in Victoria, she partook in several shows.
“A lot of them were for fundraisers but I’ve never been the full-on organizer,” she said. “I’ve always made the clothes for them but this is the first that I’ve done every single aspect of it. I’m enjoying it.”
While the idea for Fashion Without Borders germinated in her head for more than a year, it wasn’t until she lost her job at PT Market a few months ago that it really took off.
Since then she’s put together 25 unique pieces of clothing, a few of which were leftover from past fashion shows, but most of which were created from scratch, custom fit to the models wearing them.
“The models are just people that I saw walking down the street that seemed like a nice person and also were pretty,” Norris said. “Most of them I just went and asked them if they wanted to be my model for a fashion show.”
One item modelled for the Times Review last week is a long, flowing blue dress with a six-foot train. It was made to mimic a mermaid, Norris said.
Norris also got help from a friend, Anne-Marie Snow, who created four items made from all-natural, hand-dyed fibre for the show. Pure Image has donated their time to do the hair for all the models and Bjorn Eddy and friends will be doing the makeup.
Norris said the clothes will be for sale after the show, though most of the models have already staked claim to their pieces. Sorry guys – there are no men’s items available.
In addition to the fashion show, the fundraiser will feature a silent auction, live music from Maggie Davis, a DJ and a documentary about Haiti created by Norris, her husband Joey and their friend Jeske Grave.
“It’s about ten minutes long about Haiti’s history over the past few hundred years,” Norris said.
Fashion Without Borders takes place Friday, Apr. 1, at the Last Drop.
The silent auction will feature donations by many local businesses and begins at 6:30 p.m. The documentary is at 8 p.m. and the fashion show will follow.