Catwalk for Community

October 21, 2019

Cynthia Kolko is the Community and Public Relations Specialist at The Summit Federal Credit Union. Here, she describes what happened when she and some co-workers from The Summit attended a Rochester Fashion Week event.

At The Summit, supporting our communities is just part of what we do. And if there’s a way to have fun while doing that, we’re all for it.

Anytime we sponsor a large community event like Taste of Syracuse or The Summit’s Wine & Chocolate Festivals in Rochester and Buffalo, we include a charitable component. So, as sponsors of this summer’s ROC the Taste Festival in Parcel 5, we used that venue to raise money for Villa of Hope and Center for Youth.

As the beneficiary of Fashion Week of Rochester, Center for Youth seems to have perfected the formula for having fun while generating support. Fashion Week brings together local designers, artists and other businesses to spotlight Rochester’s youngest residents and the issues, often coupled with grim circumstances, that too many of them face. A slew of fashion shows and affiliated events raise money needed to fund Center for Youth’s comprehensive range of programs, including emergency shelter, services for homeless youth, crisis nurseries and school-based programs.

None of Fashion Week happens, of course, without a dedicated team of hard workers lending considerable time and talent to the cause. This was evident at Tuesday’s Afternoon Rendezvous runway show and luncheon, attended by me and nine other co-workers– ladies from The Summit’s corporate office and two of our branches.

Finger Lakes Community College's President Robert Nye with the school's mascot.
Finger Lakes Community College President Robert Nye with the school’s mascot.

Upon arriving, we stood in the long (but swiftly-moving) line to the show tent, and were directed to table #1, perched ringside near the curtained opening from which the models emerge. The first were Rochester City Firemen, who strode out all manly-ish in their firefighting pants. The accessories (think axes) definitely added a dangerous allure to what I imagine are standard-issue garments. I wouldn’t recommend any of it for a workplace like ours.

To this observer, faux fur is in and the plusher the better. Indeed, several of the models were fuzzy from head-to-toe. Mascots of local colleges and universities, including RIT, Nazareth College and MCC, boogied down the runway escorted by each institution’s president, all exuding authority whether wearing dapper suits or something else. Some mascots, many of whom I didn’t know existed before this show, used the runway to happily high-five away any pretense of academic decorum.

In another segment, “I’m Every Woman” resounded from the speakers as models of a range of shapes and ages reminded us that style isn’t the sole dominion of the young and skinny. I would have appreciated more petite ladies, though– a high-fashion, low-vertical element. We were also treated to a lovely dance performance as a kind of halftime show.

There was a lot to admire. Fall knits, patterned shorts and colorful scarves were among my favorites. I also liked some of the evening looks, if only I had an occasion to wear something like that. Some dresses were a little space-age for me, personally. But everything in this show could be worn, with not an outlandish getup in the bunch: no fruit on the head, zombie makeup or shrouds made of welded napkin rings. The most outré outfits were ones inspired by the cultural fashion of different countries, which made quite a beautiful theatrical spectacle.

As for The Summit’s table, we all left feeling perhaps a little more inspired to expand our own fashion repertoires, as well as inspired by the support the event provided to Center for Youth. I’m probably not the only one attending this or another Fashion Week event who did a little shopping over the weekend or supported one of our charities.

Cynthia Kolko, The Summit Federal Credit Union