Local retailers and international designers will join forces later this month to help raise funds for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas, while also showcasing the latest fashions.
The Fashion Event will return March 22-24 with fashion shows and parties taking place each night at The Stella Hotel.
The concept began in 2016 with Brazos Valley Fashion Week and transformed in 2017 into The Fashion Event. In 2016, the organizers raised $50,000 for the Fun For All Playground, then raised $60,000 in 2017 for the Mercy Project.
Chance Okonski, president and CEO of The Fashion Event, did not want to place a goal on this year's show and said he would be happy with any amount raised this year, with all the proceeds going toward Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas, which serves children and families in the Brazos Valley.
"We value everyone's support, and anything raised that we didn't do before is something good," he said.
Each year, Okonski said, he is amazed at how The Fashion Event's 12-person committee can create something that has such a great impact on the community.
RMHC provides many resources, but the No. 1 need it meets is providing families of critically ill or injured children a place to call home -- at little or no cost -- near the hospital or center providing treatment.
"Many families travel far from home and spend several weeks or months to get treatment for their seriously ill or injured children. ... and for children facing a serious medical crisis, nothing seems scarier than not having mom and dad close by for love and support," RMHC writes on their website. RMHC's commitment to keeping families close and creating those support systems connects nicely with The Fashion Event's mission, Okonski said.
Through the event, Okonski and his committee aim to create a "runway of hope" that supports residents in Brazos Valley.
When former president and CEO Nikki Pederson decided to step down from her leadership role in the event and offered the position to Okonski, he said he could not say no.
"One of the main, sole reasons I decided to take over as this year's president and CEO is I knew if I didn't continue to do this, that would be $60- or $50- or $70,000 that would potentially not be raised for something that needs it," Okonski said.
There are many charitable events people can attend in Bryan-College Station, he noted, but no others allow people to get dressed up and attend three days of black-tie fashion events.
"We market ourselves as the most stylish event in all of Brazos Valley," he said, bringing a sample of New York and Los Angeles to Bryan-College Station.
In addition to local retailers and international designers, including some from Texas and of Project Runway fame, the show will bring models from the Brazos Valley as well as visiting models from New York, Los Angeles and Australia.
Each show will begin at 7 p.m. in The Stella Hotel with a pre-show party from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the nearby courtyard, featuring cocktail tables, photo backdrops and a different DJ each night.
Retailers, designers and sponsors involved in this year's event also will have a "pop-up shop" during the show's after-parties to display their brands and allow people to "shop the looks" they saw on the runway.
Tickets are $50 for the Thursday and Friday shows and $100 for March 24's show. March 24's pre-show party will be a VIP event for anyone who purchased a ticket. People can purchase tickets, learn about the committee members and find more information about RMHC and the featured designers and retailers on The Fashion Event website, www.thefashioneventbcs.com.
Anyone unable to attend who still wants to donate to RMHC can do so by going to http://bit.ly/thefashionevent.