Every year on a Thursday afternoon in August, The Saratoga Fashion show gets underway inside the At the Rail Pavilion tent and delivers on its promise of ‘world class fashion for a world class cause’. In it’s 17th year, the party has grown from a modest event to an all out extravaganza, with nearly 60 models walking the 20 foot runway showcasing pieces from THEIA and Don O’Neill, Daniel Mozzes, Donna Hercules, Kim Vanyo, Karen Sewell, Christine A. Moore, Lisa Battaglia and more.
Along with a fabulous committee and volunteers, there is one woman behind it all, passionately raising money for recipient Ronald McDonald House Charities year after year, Natalie Sillery of Saratoga Trunk. Natalie prepares for the show for weeks and is up at 3am the morning of, making sure every last detail of the day is seen to, with 60 models getting ready in back and a sold out crowd of over 500 in the front of the house. All the while managing to look like she just stepped off the runway herself, this year stunning in a deep purple THEIA dress, paired with an exquisite hat created for Natalie by Christine A. Moore.
Rick Partyka described Natalie after the event as having ‘conducted a stunning symphony of love and charity’ and we couldn’t agree more. Guests arrived to tables covered in goodies, including olive oil from DZ Restaurants and Nancy Bambara, champagne from Patty Novo and Crush and Cask, Saratoga Season’s and Saratoga Social Magazines and drawings from children staying at the Ronald McDonald house. Walt Adams kicked off the festivities to a crowd that included Honorary Chairs Heather and Gerard Wise, who win for best looking chairpersons of the summer, Heather radiant in a one shoulder printed dress and pink fascinator and Gerard looking very Clark Kent in a suit and glasses.
They were joined by a sold out crowd that included Mary Gavin, Julie Bonacio, Amy Sutton, Margie Rotchford, Patty Riggi, Beth Smith, Michele Riggi, Mara King, Laura Crisafulli and Christine Marchesiello. All over the Pavilion and on the models this year were little pops of purple, as feathers in the girls hair as they walked the runway or tied around a decoration at a table. It was a beautiful and fitting tribute to Carole Moreau, whose love and exuberance could be felt all day and a thank you to Dr. Mark Moreau for his presence at the luncheon, overwhelmingly appreciated in a room full of devoted ‘Carole-Heads’. The symphony of love kept playing and hit probably its highest note of the day, when Natalie opened the show with little Chase, the epitome of brave in his batman outfit, being lead by Peyton, hair swept to the side in a magical braid down the runway.
Despite all the designers, models and fabulous fashion, this event never seems to lose its focus from the reason attendees are really there, to support the house that love built. The Ronald McDonald House of Albany is called home by over 550 families a year while their child receives treatment in an area hospital and less than 30% of those families can afford the suggested donation per night. However, because of the support of event’s such as this one, Ronald McDonald House never has to turn anyone away due to their inability to pay. One after one, Natalie’s trunkettes waltzed down the runway, with her little Trunkettina’s leading the procession, including the adorable Sophie whose mother Trina Lucas marveled at her little girl’s grown up confidence, having come a long way from her first reluctant runway appearance years ago. Designer Donna Hercules’ Collection D’Alli was being modeled by the little girls, including beautiful Posey with her mom Catherine Hover and Alice Dalton carrying stuffed animal Daisy before we were on to some seriously grown up, show-stopping dresses. Some of the women the crowd has come to adore were back modeling this year including Christianne Smith who always owns the runway, Heather Straughter, Amy Raimo, Elaine SIllery, Cassandra Partyka, Melissa Brumley, Circular Manor beauty Michele Funiciello, Rebecca Beers and the always gorgeous Zoe Alexander. Watching from backstage were Saratoga darlings Don O’Neill with Evelyn Anastos, whose talent and generosity are seemingly endless. All day long, the exceptional Lisa Miller was capturing the moments on and off the runway, snappging hundreds of photographs which can be found on her website Studio Di Luce so guests nor models will have to wonder what they missed. We caught up with Heather and Gerard Wise after the event who were thrilled with the outcome saying ‘We couldn’t be more pleased with today’s event and could not have done it without the support of an incredible committee, group of volunteers and the wonderful Natalie Sillery who all put their heart and soul into making this a successful day for Ronald McDonald House Charities.