KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A group of Kansas City artists are hosting a benefit fashion show on April 30 at Fire House KC. All the proceeds from ticket sales and the silent auction will be donated to Heart to Heart International for medical relief efforts in Ukraine.
“When raising money, especially for a fundraiser, people want to know exactly where those dollars are going and that they are going to a reputable organization. Heart to Heart International has boots on the ground in Moldova and Ukraine right now,” said event organizer and local fashion designer Christian Shuster.
Shuster says 20 local designers have decided to participate and each created one outfit inspired by the Ukrainian flag for the show.
Jennifer Tierney, one of the local designers participating, says she wanted to get involved in any way possible. She says she felt a personal connection to Ukrainians after sharing the stage with many of them during her time as a professional dancer.
“My company members are like my family members, so seeing them suffer was immediately difficult for me,” Tierney said.
Tierney says this experience has been about learning. A lot of pieces she makes for special causes calls for hours of research. During her journey in creating a dress for this week's show, she felt compelled to give a part of herself as well.
“The back piece is a mesh that I brought home from Paris — so I have french heritage. And that’s my little piece that I’m giving of myself to this cause,” Tierney said.
Ukrainian-born classical cellist, Elena Bosworth, hopes it can be another way for her to give back to her homeland. She will be performing traditional Ukrainian music as background music for the runway.
“Instead of singing, I’m gonna express myself through instrument. That’s my voice,” Bosworth said. “If I would be in Ukraine, I would just be in a bomb shelter. Here I can be the voice of my country. Maybe a tiny voice, but still a voice.”
The fashion show is a ticketed event with 200 general admission tickets available at $25 each. The event will also feature a silent auction with items and services donated by local business owners.
Shuster says he is grateful, but not surprised, about the outpour of support he has seen for his idea. Within a weekend, he was able to recruit designers, create a website and have a venue donated. Their goal is to raise $10,000.
“This city blows my mind on a regular basis from the generosity and the eagerness and willingness to jump on board behind a cause,” Shuster said.
He says he hopes others will see the war in Ukraine as a personal one.
“As Americans, we really take for granted a lot of the liberties that we enjoy on a daily basis,” Shuster said. “Ukraine seems far away, but I would almost guarantee you that every single one of us has someone in our circle who is connected to Ukraine in some way.”
Ticket purchasing and additional event information can be found online.