As we count down the days to sub-triple-digit temps, looking forward to the beautiful bustle that is fall in the Dallas fashion world, I’d like to share a few thoughts.
In the spirit of the DFW Style Daily mission statement, in which we promised to “track what’s really going on in the world of Dallas style”, minus the tricks and politics, I have a few words to say on a very important subject.
What does the word “charity” mean to you?
For me, it evokes images of hungry kids eating Thanksgiving dinner, or poster-sized checks being presented to students in need.
For some, however, “charity” is simply a means to expanding a personal network – or worse, a personal bank account. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Rewind to last week, and I was enjoying a stylish lunch with friends at Patrizio in Highland Park Village. Our conversation centered around the numerous fashion events coming up on our busy fall calendars. It seemed that the vast majority of these events had a charitable tie-in of some sort.
But we agreed that not all beneficiaries are created equal.
As our group sliced into plates of prosciutto-wrapped melon, we gasped upon learning the truth about a recent high-profile event in Uptown Dallas. That evening of cheek-kissing and champagne was meant to benefit women and children in need through a specific item of clothing. It came to light, however, that the founder of the organization admits to dipping into the charity’s bank account when she needs some extra cash. She doesn’t seem to think it’s a problem, either.
I for one know what my decision will be upon receiving any more invites from that “charity”.
Moving forward, Fashion’s Night Out presents another charitable organization-centered decision to be made. Among the events happening around town, Galleria Dallas is featuring not one, but two cocktail lounges hosted by a pair of Dallas fashion organizations – namely The Fashionistas and Fashion Group International.
In one corner, The Fashionistas seems to be made of Teflon when it comes to the unflattering facts. The Dallas Morning News can point out that the vast majority of funds raised by the “charity” go to rent, salaries, contractors, events, travel costs, and branding, and yet folks still clamor to have their pictures taken with founder Heidi Dillon and her party-loving crew.
Next time they’re posing for the camera, I hope they’ll think about the fact that, of the $186,423 banked by The Fashionistas in the years 2008 and 2009 (the most recent figures available), a paltry $3,500 went to the students they claim to be helping. Heidi, if you’re listening, maybe 2010 showed an improvement?
On the other hand, Fashion Group International, Inc. is a 5,000-member-strong global professional organization, dating back to 1930. Among its founders are Eleanor Roosevelt, Elizabeth Arden, and Edith Head. In Dallas alone, FGI Career Day awards $15,000 in scholarships each year to students seeking careers in the fashion and lifestyle industries. Fashion Group International of Dallas supports additional area non-profits as well.
Multiply that by dozens of chapters around the world, and you’ll see why it irks this fashion reporter when folks confuse The Fashionistas and Fashion Group International. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a member of FGI.
I also recently participated in Modern Luxury Dallas’ Fresh Faces of Fashion, an annual program that benefits the Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas. Over the past five years, Fresh Faces has raised nearly $1 million for the SCC.
To sum up, we in the Dallas style set must do our homework. Is the organization our tickets and donations are supporting on the up-and-up? With so many worthwhile charities at our fashionable fingertips, why would we bother with the murky in-betweens? Grey, in this sense, is not a flattering color.
My best to you,
Lisa Petty, Editor