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VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

Fashion Show Highlights New Americans' Rich Culture And Locally Designed Threads

Elvira Tripp
Models pose for a poster advertising The Fashion Show, a choreographed arts, music and dance event at Burlington International Airport on Saturday, March 18 to benefit Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program.

Next Saturday, the mezzanine at Burlington International Airport will become a runway lined with models donning locally designed clothing in The Fashion Show 2017.And 20 of those models are new Americans.

This first-ever event to benefit the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program, coordinated by Milissa O'Brien, will be "a multicultural expression of the arts, fusing fashion, rhythm and performance."

Along with the models, the show will feature live music by local groups Africa Jamonoand A2VT, who will debut a new single.

Credit Elvira Tripp
Local group A2VT plan to debut a new single at The Fashion Show 2017 event on Saturday, March 18 at Burlington International Airport. The show will benefit Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program.

O'Brien spoke with VPR about the months of hard work, rehearsals and choreography needed to put on such an event. She also shared the large role fashion plays in new Americans' lives.

"Fashion is so much more important on a multi-dimensional level for the new Americans than it is, I think, for some American-born," she said.

"It is a full cultural celebration. Fashion is one of the only ways that they can hold on to the culture of their home country." - Milissa O'Brien, event coordinator

O'Brien said she worked hard to pair up models with just the right local clothing designer in order to adhere to cultural or religious conformities in dress.

"In a lot of cultures, because of their religion, women are not allowed to expose certain parts of their bodies. There are religions that are represented in the show in the new American models that can't bare their arms and can't bare above their knee."

O'Brien said, "The stores love learning about that. How else are they going to learn about that? ... It's this journey that everybody is on. And the end result is something that everybody can celebrate and feel excited about."

The Fashion Show 2017 is Saturday, March 18 beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
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