WESTFIELD, NJ — Youngsters who might not typically be in the spotlight were among the stars to show off the latest styles during a fashion show at the James Ward Mansion Sunday.
Some of the kids rolled down the runway in wheelchairs; others relied on crutches for support. But they all had one thing in common: they sported styles and earned applause, performing in a fashion show where professional models also walked.
“Kids are really excited,” said Jennifer Lane, the special events coordinator at Lord & Taylor, who emceed the show along with Ethan Bernan of EJB Entertainment. “They’ve been coming to all the different stores all week and picking out the outfits.”
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Westfield shops including Athleta, Adlers Jewelers, J. McLaughlin, Jude Connally, Jos. A. Banks, Lord & Taylor, Sole Shoes, South Moon Under and the Westfield Service League, were among the retailers to provide outfits and accessories.
Downtown Westfield Corporation, the government entity managing the town’s special improvement district, organized the event held at the James Ward Mansion.
The organizers partnered with a local chapter of the Runway of Dreams Foundation, which is leading an industry wide movement of inclusion in fashion, empowering people with disabilities.
Westfield High School sophomore Charlotte Cohen and senior Jillian Laconti, who are with their school’s chapter of the Runway of Dreams Foundation, helped to recruit six young models for the show.
“The clothing is all adaptive so it includes different openings or magnetic closures, which help to provide easy access whether they’re wearing braces or have lessened mobility,” Cohen said.
Students from the Valencia Music School in Westfield performed at the event, which is part of the DWC’s “Second Sunday” series to draw people into downtown on the second Sunday of each month.
Among the people to volunteer their time were Lorena Barbosa, Marisa Pica and Joe Mindak, realtors at David Realty group, who modeled attire from Westfield's J McLaughlin.
Erin Ben-Hayon, who chairs the promotions committee at Downtown Westfield Corporation, said she hopes the success of this year's fashion show carries into next year.
“It was great to see the support of the community at this great event that we hope to come back bigger and better next year,” Ben-Hayon said.
Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at firstname.lastname@example.org; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh
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