With a velvet rope and a lengthy line out front, and a thumping, pounding electro-pop beat from the DJ upstairs, the Bijou Club in Boston’s theater district welcomed the annual charity fashion show of the Retail and Luxury Goods Club of Harvard Business School (HBS) on the night of November 14. A long runway stretched down the center of the dance floor, on which 40 female and male models, all HBS students, sported outfits ranging from jeans and casual tops to evening gowns, from kicky to elegant and sexy. The theme of this year’s show—which boasted 24 designers showing clothes on the runway, and attracted 11 sponsors—was “Style on Your Own Terms.” (The annual show receives mention in the cover article of Harvard Magazine’s forthcoming January-February 2013 issue, which explores the careers of several Harvard alumni working in the fashion industry.)
The event, first held in 2008, benefits a different charity each year. This time, its proceeds of more than $13,000 (tickets were $45 each, and audience members were nearly all HBS students; the Bijou donated its space) were earmarked for the Harris Center for Education and Advocacy in Eating Disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital. That seemed an appropriate choice, given the prominence of discussions about anorexia and bulimia in the fashion world, many of whose leaders have been taking steps to counter such problems.
One model, Tom Humphrey, a second-year M.B.A. student, was a relative pro: the Australian native had been a child model and did a little more modeling in college to help meet expenses. All the models, who arrived in late afternoon for the 10 p.m. start—allowing time for hair and makeup work, plus finalizing the composition of each outfit—received a couple of hours of coaching beforehand from an associate of a local modeling agency. Tips for the runway, Humphrey reported, included: walk slowly, keep elbows in, pause for two seconds at the end of the runway and shift weight from one foot to the other, keep your facial expression “fairly blue steel.” He got creative on his final trip down the runway, and danced his way back from the far end.