They call it the largest student-run charity fashion show in Canada – “an unforgettable night of fashion and philanthropy” – and this year, it’s marking a big milestone.
The 25th anniversary of the Canadian Asian International Students Association (CAISA) Fashion Show also marks the first in-person event after three years of COVID-19.
“The show is of such high calibre. It’s definitely an atypical fashion show; it’s not just a runway where we have outfits put together and models walk to music. We actually incorporate choreography, it’s a very dance– heavy show, so it’s quite entertaining. The choreography team is crushing it, and it looks fantastic,” said Stephanie Ngo, one of the executive directors of the fashion show.
It takes months of work and a huge team to launch the CAISA Fashion Show.
“It just feels like a grand spectacle we’re able to put on,” Ngo, a fourth-year science student, said. “This club is older than I am. We’ve been around for 25 years now, and it started off as a small production at the Wave, right on campus.”
On Saturday, it’ll take over one of London’s landmark venues, the 2200-seat Centennial Hall. Tickets are still available.
So, just how big is the largest student-run charity fashion show in the country?
The executive committee is 75 members strong, with teams dedicated to everything from videography to corporate relations to managing models. There are more than 60 models walking the runway. The results speak for themselves – over the last 25 years the CAISA Fashion Show has donated $386,000 to the Children’s Health Foundation.
The charity supports the Children’s Hospital, the Children’s Health Research Institute and TVCC (formerly the Thames Valley Children’s Centre), all of which help kids with medical needs.
“Children’s Health Foundation is consistently in awe of CAISA’s perseverance and commitment to our community. For 25 years, they have worked with passion and diligence to continue putting on a poignant show that has adapted throughout uncertain times and is confidently moving forward,” president and CEO Scott Fortnum said.
“Raising more than $386,000 since its inception, CAISA’s fashion show makes more moments possible for our families. From the moment of diagnosis to the joyful moment of heading home, their generosity helps ensure that children across Western Ontario have the best possible care when facing life-threatening or life-limiting diagnoses,” he added.
This year’s fundraising focus for the fashion show is maternal and infant lifestyle health research.
“It’s quite amazing that a team of students have been able to raise more than $386,000” since 1998, Ngo said.
She’s been involved with CAISA for four years, but because of pandemic protocols, this will be her first in-person fashion show. Ngo said it’s been the highlight of her university career.
“The sense of community among the people putting on this production is so impactful, it really does feel like a second family. I know the models feel the same way,” she said.
The dancing and choreography in the show tell a story, following a pair of twins throughout their lives, with different outfits representing various stages of life, such as sporting attire to illustrate childhood.
“There’s something in it for everyone. It is a night of fashion, for sure, but also dancing and philanthropy,” Ngo said of the show and its impact.
“It really is far-reaching. It’s such an experience, it’s hard to describe in words.”