BATON ROUGE, LA (FOX44) – How we display ourselves daily shows a great deal about our background, culture, and unique sense of self. The Baton Rouge-based organization Forum 35 is hosting an event on Thursday, Aug. 11 that hopes to bring together our community through our basic daily advertisement of self; fashion.
Four years ago Forum 35 realized that within its own organization the racial divide was not proportionate. They noted that the group only maintained about 3 percent of an ethnic membership outside of Caucasian. For this reason, along with the realization that this divide is also representative within the city, they formed a Cultural Diversity Committee.
“We noticed that Baton Rouge had this invisible cultural divide with regards to race and gender,” Vanisia Winston, Creative Director of the Forum 35 Cultural Diversity Committee, explained. “Once the Diversity Committee was formed, we said, ‘okay, what else are we going to do?’ There has to be some action behind it.”
Winston along with other members on the committee began seeking ways to engage the community. One solution was to create a lecture series held once a quarter.
“Every quarter we address and talk about different subjects,” Winston continued. “Our main focus is to discuss what we have in common, not our differences.”
After each lecture, the group then meets to devise an “action event.” The purpose is to put the concepts discussed at the lecture into motion.
“We had a lecture series about religion and one of the things they discussed was how we fail to help each other,” Winston recalled when explaining how the upcoming fashion show serves as one of the action-based events. “We separate ourselves by our religion, and even by race within those religions. So we go to these places, but we fail to give back.
“After the lecture we thought about those organizations we work with to where we could do something to help give back,” she continued. “We thought about how women that have a hard time and need a little help, and that brought us to Dress for Success.”
All proceeds from the fashion show, which is called MIXTURE, will go to benefit Dress for Success, which is a non-profit organization devoted to helping women who are facing hard times find professional clothing to gain them the right look for seeking employment.
“The theme for the show is based on how a woman evolves professionally,” Winston detailed. “The first part is the youth part of her life where she’s young and playful. Then it moves to when she goes to work in business attire. And finally it ends with how she dresses to go out at night.”
The show will get started at 7 p.m. at the Lyceum Dean located at 124 Third Street in downtown Baton Rouge. Along with the fashion, there will be food provided by Stroubes Restaurant, live painting by local artists, and music and dancing.
“I don’t want to give too much away because there are going to be too many surprises,” Winston said with a bit of an excited giggle. “I will say that it’s going to be really neat and something that Baton Rouge hasn’t really seen before.”
Click here for more information about Forum 35.