That’s the message celebrity stylist Derek Warburton wants to bring to women as New York’s Fashion Week nears an end.
So, he teamed up with top designers and Bottomless Closet, a non-profit group that helps disadvantaged New York City women learn how to dress for work, to hold a benefit fashion show called “Real Fashion, Real Women.”
Special Section: New York Fashion Week
Twenty-four New York women from Bottomless Closet will walk down the runway wearing designs by Nicole Miller, Betsey Johnson and Rachel Comey, among others.
Warburton, whose best accessory is the heart on his sleeve, cast the “Real Fashion, Real Women” models. He was moved by their stories of overcoming homelessness and domestic violence.
While he’s styled some high-end clients, such as Beyonce, and appeared on “The Real Housewives of New York City,” his life hasn’t always been glamorous. He knows firsthand what it’s like to face hardships – he, too, was homeless for 8 months when he was 14 years old. He and his mother lived in a tent with no electricity, water or bathroom and had to dig an open sewer. Ironically, his mother had a job the entire time and had a good head on her shoulders. She just got behind on rent.
Their lives eventually improved and Warburton went on to graduate from the Fashion Institute of Technology – proof that perseverance goes a long way. He’s been paying it forward since and made it his mission in life to help women like his mother reclaim their lives.
Warburton has volunteered with Bottomless Closet for nearly four years and has personally worked with more than 450 women. He also hosts a monthly, two-hour workshop called “HOW TO BE DEREK FABULOUS” that helps prepare homeless women for job interviews.
Having been in the trenches himself, Warburton realizes that no one should be left out or singled out for their past or social or financial status. “I’m inclusive, not exclusive,” he says and he prides himself on his philosophy.
During the final fittings for tonight’s “Real Fashion, Real Women” show, Warburton and designer Nicole Miller were in tears to see how radiant and confident the models were with their renewed sense of self.
Real Women from Bottomless Closet Will Work the Runway Come Fashion Week
On September 12, lucky ladies from the Bottomless Closet, will strut the runway wearing frocks from top designers including Nicole Miller, Costello Tagliapietra, Lela Rose and more. Not only will the ladies experience an authentic fashion moment but they will also help Bottomless Closet–which helps women get back on their feet after they have been homeless, abused, and incarcerated–raise funds. We call that winning.
A few days ago a select group of ladies attended, as Tyra Banks would say, a “go-see” where they tried on looks and mingled with fellow models.
Bottomless Closet Workshop Hosted by Celebrity Stylist Derek Warburton
The mission of Bottomless Closet is to help disadvantaged New York City women become self-sufficient through a comprehensive program that begins with professional attire and interview preparation and continues with professional development, financial management and personal enrichment. Using the model of women helping women and their network of dedicated volunteers, Bottomless Closet enhances their clients’ self-esteem and self-confidence in order for them to enter and succeed in the workforce and improve their quality of life.
Upon arrival we were greeted by Dana Prigge from DailyFashionista.com. Dana had invited us both a day prior to take part in the workshop.
Bottomless Closet was very true to its name as the rooms were filled with donated designer clothes and accessories.
The workshop began with an inspirational speech from Derek. Since 2009 Derek has been working with Bottomless Closet where he helps women dress for the career they want and build their self esteem along with their self image.
Derek’s work has been featured in The New York Times, Marie Claire, In Touch, Life & Style,The UK’s Evening Standard and more. His clients include Victoria’s Secret models, music superstars, and A-list Actors.
It wasn’t all glitz and glamour for Derek, who as a child had to endure a homeless lifestyle in the mountains of New Hampshire. Despite his circumstances, Derek had always strived to fulfill his dreams in fashion. After graduating High School, Derek went off to my alma mater the Fashion Institute of Technology where he started to pave his career in fashion.
After his speech, Derek asked everyone to go around the room and tell their own story. The stories from the women of Bottomless Closet ranged from domestic abuse, homelessness and extreme poverty. It was hard to fathom how anyone could make it through such horrible circumstances but these women have done so with such resilience and vigor. I was both inspired and humbled to hear their stories.
Then it came my turn to tell my own story. I was hesitant to reveal that growing up as an immigrant child from Ukraine I had to live in extreme poverty. It’s never been something that I’ve openly shared until now. After a quick thought I decided to tell my story in hopes of inspiring someone else to keep fighting for their dreams and the life that they’ve always wanted. To give you a brief synopsis; I came to America from Odessa, Ukraine when I was 8, not knowing a word of English. The children at school mercilessly made fun of my threadbare clothing. In fact, I’ve never owned a piece of designer clothing until I started my career in fashion. Despite my unfortunate circumstances I never gave up. My fashion dreams started to come true when I was accepted into the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology.
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