On a crisp November night, the corner of Baker and Spring streets in West Roxbury was transformed into a catwalk. Local clothing boutiques Fabutique and Top if Off hosted their first annual “Fashion Mob,” where models strutted down a red carpet on the sidewalk in the stores' best designs, in front of a crowd of local residents, as well as a few curious motorists.
The event was an innovative way for the small businesses to raise money for the Roslindale Food Pantry, while also displaying their favorite designs. Throughout the night, raffle tickets were sold for $5 each, with all of the proceeds going to the pantry. Purchasers had a chance to win prizes from local shops and restaurants, such as Astra Hair Salon, Stick Rice Café, Sugar Bakery, The Real Deal, Hercules Press, Wicked Sharp, UNOs restaurant, Himalayan Bistro, as well as Top it Off and Fabutique.
Before the fashion show began, Top it Off owner Elizabeth Hoenscheid urged the crowd to “remember to buy local this holiday season.”
If the number of shopping bags in hand by the end of the night was any indicator, attendees took the advice.
Ashley Boiardi of Top it Off, an accessory shop, came up with the idea of the show in early October, in consultation with Fabutique’s Marika Gaurenszky. Although Boiardi had never put on a fashion show before, she said she “loved the idea and ran with it.”
After speaking with the rest of the stores on the block, Fabutique and Top it Off were ready to plan their first Fashion Mob. “Everyone on the block was thrilled with the idea,” said Boiardi.
So were many of those who attended.
“I thought it was nice that all these shops got together and pulled this off, and for a good cause," said Heidi Cullen of West Roxbury, who came to support local businesses and ended up purchasing a vintage bag. “The models did well, and it was a great turnout."
Cullen, like others who attended the event, heard about it through word of mouth. Boiardi noted that there was no official advertising for the first Fashion Mob; organizers relied on local media outlets and email blasts to get the word out.
Jacqui Walter of West Roxbury, a regular customer at Fabutique, was one of the five volunteer models. “I come in all the time to check out the clothes,” she said. “I think that the models inspired a lot of buzz about the outfits."
Although nervous about being in full display on a busy street, Walter quickly got over her jitters. “I was a little nervous until I saw the first girl go, and that made me a little less nervous. Plus, we had great music,” she said.
Boiardi said she hoped the Fashion Mob would become an annual event.
“We’re going to do this again next year and it’s going to be bigger and better,” she said. “We want to stop traffic on the street!”
This article was reported under the supervision of Northeastern University journalism instructor Lisa Chedekel, under a partnership between Northeastern and The Boston Globe.