Runway Watchers Will Discover an Aisle of Man

O range County's business, community and civic leaders will model in the Gentlemen's Haberdashery, a men's fashion show and luncheon expected to draw almost 500 people to the Hyatt Regency Irvine today at 11:14 a.m.

Benefit organizers hope to raise about $100,000 for the Sisters of the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart. The sisters run the Heart of Jesus Retreat Center in Santa Ana, which serves disadvantaged children. (Tickets are available by calling (714) 549-4279.)

Kitty Leslie is the fashion coordinator of the 17th-anniversary show, which will feature amateur male models who have donated $150 to parade down the catwalk in clothes from stores in Fashion Island Newport Beach.

Although Leslie usually works with professional models, she enjoys being around these neophytes.

"Every one of them is very used to standing in front of a podium and giving speeches, but in a fashion show, they get nervous," Leslie says. "Some are more nervous than others, so we pair them with professional female models, and they always do OK."

This is another in a series of first-person columns that allow people connected to the fashion industry to talk about their encounters.


This fashion show is different from others I've done in that it's mostly men. They are wonderful to work with because they have confidence in themselves, but the problem is nailing them down for a fitting, because their time is not their own.

There are 57 men in the show, and so that's 57 fitting appointments that are scheduled and then rescheduled. The stores supplying the clothes and assisting in the fittings have been really cooperative.

The sisters (of the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart) come to every fitting. I have to clean up my act when they're around. They are very hands-on. It's amazing how contemporary they are in their fashion knowledge. But then, they work with young people, and that gives them insight into fashion.

Just before the men go out in front of the audience, they are waiting in the hallway and primping. Some are even practicing their walk. All are eyeing each other and commenting about what the other guys are wearing.

About 80% of the clothes we show are bought by the models themselves because they are such busy people, they don't have time to shop, and when they receive special attention from the store's manager and staff and me, and they get into the clothes and see how good they look, they buy.

We coax them into wearing items that may not be what they are used to.

We put one man into a $4,000 black wool jacket that has a theatrical Western look. It looked wonderful with a Mexican wedding shirt. When I left the store, he had purchased the shirt and some boots because he realized it's a look he can wear.

In the fashion show, we show everything from very casual, such as a Hawaiian surfer look, to a very formal, double-breasted woolen silk tuxedo for our finale. In between, we have suits, shorts, sport coats and golf wear. The models love to golf. We also have some who are sailors, so we have nautical wear.

We have a theme for the fashion show each year, and this year it's "Our Hearts Are in the U.S." We have a 30-piece Marine Corps band opening the show. For our patriotic theme, we'll show leather jacket and jeans and boots.

We would love to put someone in farmers' denim overalls with a real bib and probably give him a pitchfork. We like to do something fun with these models.

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