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Survivors Show Their Strength On The Runway At Fashion Week

Why Not Do It With Some Style?


Over twenty domestic violence victims, former drug addicts, homeless, and other survivors walked the famous Fashion Week runways this past Thursday in New York City in a show organized by the non-profit group Bottomless Closet and celebrity stylist Derek Warburton. Designers Nicole Miller, Ivana Helsinki, Betsey Johnson and Rachel Comey donated looks to the participants of the event dubbed, “Real Fashion, Real Women.” 

“This is like a fantasy. I cannot believe this is happening,” Donna Brown told the NY Daily News. “I’m 49, ladies, playing the fashion model … it’s such a beautiful moment.” Brown got to wear a custom Nicole Miller gown Thursday at the Empire Hotel. She left her emotionally and physically abusive relationship in 2009 after years of torment.  “It was killing me. I’m getting choked up remembering how it was to feel ugly all of the time, ugly and worthless,” she said. “I don’t want anyone to have to feel like I felt, ever. I want women to know that they are somebody . That they are beautiful.”

Proceeds from the event go to help Bottomless Closet, an organization that “begins with business attire and interview preparation and continues with professional development, financial management and personal enrichment,” according to their website. They clothed Brown in a power suit three years ago which helped land her a job training healthcare providers in medical software.

“I was homeless growing up,” Warburton told the Daily News, “so I can really relate to these women and where they are coming from. I am listening to their stories, and it’s surprising how dramatic they are.”

According to the event page, “Warburton has been involved with Bottomless Closet for nearly four years and has personally worked with over 450 women. Derek hosts a monthly, two-hour workshop called “HOW TO BE DEREK FABULOUS” that helps prepare homeless women for job interviews.” It also says the women ranged “from sizes range from 4-12, will prove that not only do fashion designers design with glamour in mind, but to show that our industry cares about its real consumer, the women who wear the clothes.”

Check out some fantastic pictures from the runway show at the Daily Mail.

(via NY Daily News, photo by Christopher Logan)

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Jill Pantozzi is a pop-culture journalist and host who writes about all things nerdy and beyond! She’s Editor in Chief of the geek girl culture site The Mary Sue (Abrams Media Network), and hosts her own blog “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” ( She co-hosts the Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast along with superhero historian Alan Kistler, contributed to a book of essays titled “Chicks Read Comics,” (Mad Norwegian Press) and had her first comic book story in the IDW anthology, “Womanthology.” In 2012, she was featured on National Geographic’s "Comic Store Heroes," a documentary on the lives of comic book fans and the following year she was one of many Batman fans profiled in the documentary, "Legends of the Knight."