On the evening of Saturday, Feb. 27, the Haitian Student Organization at FGCU hosted its third annual 50 Shades of Beauty Fashion Show to benefit Love A Child.
Love A Child is a nonprofit Christian organization based in Haiti, that educates and feeds more than 7,000 children a day at its 16 schools as well as houses 78 children at its orphanage. Entry to the fashion show was free with a donation to Love A Child. Donation items were specified on its special needs bulletin, which included items such as topical medications, school packs and office supplies .
The fashion show was held in the Cohen Center ballroom with a makeshift runway and more than a dozen participants. Student Government president Thieldens “T” Elneus served as one of the masters of ceremonies.
The show began with performances of both the Haitian and American national anthems by members of HSO, soon followed by the first category, introduced by emcee and event coordinator Josue Valbrun.
Valbrun has been active in HSO since 2012, taking a one-year leave and returning to serve as the club’s president in the 2014-15 school year.
“Not everyone is Haitian,” Valbrun said. “The focus of the title — yeah, there’s the whole ‘50 Shades’ aspect to it — but we really try to make it the most diverse audience and participants that we can. That’s very, very important to us.”
The first category modeled was casual wear, consisting mainly of clothing from event sponsor Apricot Lane, located in Gulf Coast Town Center. Other event sponsors included Adidas, which was prevalent in the subsequent, newly added athletic wear category; The Limited, which was seen in the following business professional category; and Saratoga Sundress, which provided the outfits for the swimwear category.
“All our sponsors were new,” Valbrun said. “This was their first time doing it, and Adidas is definitely going to return next year.”
Between categories, Elneus brought volunteers from the crowd up to the stage to ask trivia questions, such as, “In what year did Haiti gain its independence?” Those who answered correctly won a $20 gift card to Saratoga Sundress.
One of the more lively categories was Rep Your Letters, which featured models boasting their Greek life apparel. Most were greeted by hoots and hollers from the crowd members in their respective Greek organizations.
“It’s an opportunity for the Greeks on campus to get involved too and show that they were a part of the event, since they all do scholarship and service as well,” Valbrun said.
The best dressed in the crowd category followed, the winner of which was determined by who received the loudest applause. The best-dressed crowd member also received a gift card to Saratoga Sundress.
The 50 Shades of Beauty Fashion Show closed on the theme encompassed in its title with a Rep Your Country category, where the same models came back out in apparel representing their heritage, carrying flags from their respective countries.
In its first year, the event hosted a cozy crowd of 20 to 30 attendees, which ballooned the following year to more than 200. Though the turnout was 150, and thus less, this year’s crowd was more generous, raising $200 for HSO.
In 2015, HSO was named RSO of the Year at FGCU and recognized as HSO of the year nationally by the Haitian Student Association. For more information about HSO, find it on Facebook at FGCU HSO, Instagram at FGCU_HSO and Twitter at FGCUHSO.