Cover Stories

A Stylish Way to Give: West County Center

Especially in St. Louis, it’s common for businesses to support charitable efforts in the communities they serve. Whether it’s through donations, fundraising events or awareness campaigns, they can be powerful partners for nonprofits that need their help. West County Center in Des Peres takes local philanthropy seriously, and each fall, it joins Friends of the Rural Parish Workers of Christ the King to host a fashion fundraiser for the Washington County service agency.

A group of Catholic women founded the organization in the 1940s to help families of former mine workers, and it remains an important resource for residents who are struggling financially. It helps them access food, clothes, shelter, transportation, household items, utility assistance, medical care and spiritual guidance so they can get back on their feet. The annual fashion event raises critical funding for these services. West County Center marketing director and show producer Sean Phillips says his staff got involved about a decade ago because the need is so great. “Serving the community is a major focus for us as well as the retailers who provide clothes and accessories for the show,” he notes. “This is one of the biggest fashion happenings in St. Louis because so many people believe in the organization it supports.”

This year, the event is Oct. 11 at The Ritz-Carlton, and it is expected to attract about 600 guests. The program starts with lunch and boutique shopping at 11 a.m., and the fashion show gets under way at 12:30 p.m. Volunteer models strut the runway in showstopping looks, and there are styles to appeal to everyone, according to Phillips. “We include a broad spectrum of fashions for men, women and children,” he says. “We try to choose retailers that will be interesting to a variety of people. A lot of work goes into the event, and it’s always something of a ‘chemistry experiment’ deciding which combinations of models, clothes and colors will look best together. We aim for continuity, but we also tie in to current trends and what’s popular at our stores.” West County retailers involved this year are Altar’d State, Banana Republic, Camille la Vie, Evereve, Gap, Gap Kids, H&M, Justice, Kindred, Macy’s, Macy’s Backstage and White House | Black Market. Tickets can be ordered at 314.605.8489 or rpwck.org/fashionshow.

Cindi Mentel, who is chairing the show with Jane Baalmann and Chris Desloge, has seen the need for Rural Parish Workers’ services firsthand. “I have visited the area and talked with residents who need the most basic things, like shelter and food,” she notes. “We are able to connect them with self-help programs and religious education as well. People need a listening ear to support the soul as well as the body, and we are happy to provide that. Simply helping a family make utility payments or find an affordable car can be life-changing.”

Phillips says this year’s show is themed ‘The Time of Your Life,’ and the decor and ambiance will revolve around clocks, timepieces and music. “We hope each guest really does enjoy this special day to the fullest,” he says. “It’s a great opportunity for the mall and its retailers to pull together for an important cause.”

West County Center supports the annual fashion show held by Friends of the Rural Parish  Workers of Christ the King Oct. 11 at The Ritz-Carlton. Pictured on the cover: Sean Phillips at the Anheuser-Busch St. Louis brewery. Stylist: Chrissie Wojciechowski; clothing by Brooks Brothers; sunglasses by Barton Perreira for Eye Roc Eyewear; hair by Rochelle’s Design Studio. For event tickets, call 314.605.8489 or visit  rpwck.org/fashionshow.

Cover design by Julie Streiler | Cover photo By Suzy Gorman

Pictured at top: Fashion show co-chairs Cindi Mentel, Jane Baalmann and Chris Desloge

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