Beyond Trend Runway Event 2013 Featured in San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, April 21, 2013:
Style Section, ‘Scene’

Runway fashion shows are not usually known for being heartfelt. But the crowd at Beyond Trend, the April 6 event benefiting Creative Growth, an Oakland center for artists with mental, physical and developmental disabilities, demonstrated unbounded enthusiasm for a dazzling array of fashions.

To say the crowd was wowed is an understatement.
“Have a tissue at the ready,” warned a gallery volunteer, as the show began.
She was right — there were tears.

Creative Growth artists, whose disabilities including autism and Down syndrome, modeled their own creations alongside more traditional models. But the applause for the pretty and skinny walkers, many of whom modeled local designer Erica Tanov’s spring-summer 2013 line crafted from textiles designed by Creative Growth artists, didn’t come close to the din that welcomed the locals, who radiated genuine, unfettered joy.

As 18 of Creative Growth’s artists strutted, shuffled or danced the runway, the crowd of nearly 300 gasped and cheered wildly, applauding their one-of-a-kind designs.

Ranging from the brightly embroidered clothes by Christine Szeto, whose pants read “We Understand Each Other” among other slogans (in both Chinese and English), to a sheath by Dinah Shapiro of knitted multicolored yarns, much of the work pushed the boundaries of fashion but would not have been out of place on a Fashion Week stage.

And there were surprises. William Scott, whose work is now in the permanent collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art, crept the walkway in a full Spider-Man suit. Lauren Dare’s canvas dress, more of an envelope, really, was stunningly intriguing.

Jane Swim, a retired Oakland schoolteacher, whose daughter’s walk was one of the show’s most flamboyant (and popular), beamed with pride. “I feel like she got into Harvard,” she said. The crowd was filled with luminaries including Alice Waters, Ben Ospital and iconic New York editor Kim Hastreiter, founder of Paper Magazine, all members of the host committee.

— Louise Rafkin

At the Beyond Trend runway show in Oakland, designers like Erica Tanov showed collections that took their cues from Creative Growth artists, such as Christine Szeto.