THE BLOG

Striking a Pose and Giving Something Back

03/14/2013 12:21 EDT | Updated 05/14/2013 05:12 EDT
HBO/Courtesy: Everett Collection

Sex and the City has been on my mind lately. In particular, that season four episode where Carrie is asked to walk in a fashion show and ends up runway roadkill, with Heidi Klum stepping over her after she falls on the catwalk. It's one of those moments that would make any girl cringe for years to come. And why is it on my mind? Because I'm about to put myself in that exact position -- walking the runway for Dare to Wear Love!

To see Carrie's runway fall:

I love, and work alongside, the fashion and the style community, so it's both important and inspiring when the industry uses its powers for good. The Dare to Wear Love initiative is just one such project. Event founders Chris Tyrell and Jim Searle, of Toronto-based Hoax Couture, invite 25 top Canadian fashion designers to participate. Each is given six yards of African fabric from which to produce a one-of-a-kind ensemble, and the resulting creations are modelled at the gala by supermodels, dancers, musicians, and others (yes, including me!) The Gala raises funds to support the Stephen Lewis Foundation in its fight to turn the tide of AIDS in Africa. Naturally, I was keen to support such a worthy cause.

Now, the task of getting runway-ready! I'm definitely used to wearing sky-high heels. But, walking unselfconsciously, and with poise, is one of those things that seems easy until you actually try, imagining every step being watched by many onlookers! I've been practising my model walk in the office (so far, so good -- no runway roadkill!). The girls keep reminding me to keep my head up, plant my feet confidently, and channel some of that all-important attitude -- knowing they'll be there to cheer me on definitely helps! And let me tell you, I have a newfound respect for the men and women who do this for a living.

You may also recall in that SATC episode, Carrie's outfit is switched at the last minute and she has to walk in nude, sequined underwear. Thankfully, that's one thing I won't have to worry about -- I'll be wearing my favourite designer Greta Constantine... so, at the very least, I'll love what I'm wearing, which of course makes it a lot less intimidating. I think we women know how much easier it is to strut your stuff when you actually feel confident and comfortable with what you're wearing! The rest, then, is up to me!

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Much as I'm nervous, I'm also excited! I love fashion and runway shows. I always sit in the front row in awe of the production and performance that goes into these events, from the hair and makeup to the fabulous clothing, lighting and music. Fashion shows pulse with excitement and optimism as we look forward to a new season and allow ourselves to fantasize about what's on show, all the possibilities the clothes suggest, and how deeply entwined with each of our identities style becomes.

Naturally, I love looking at the beautiful models too. And I know that, under normal circumstances, I would not be a candidate to walk a runway. So, it's a true treat and honour to play "model for a day," and I'm also proud to walk representing an age and shape that is not often represented on the runway. When I was asked to participate, I quickly chased away my own insecurities and thought, this will be a good thing, for myself and for other women. After all, fashion should be celebrated by all of us -- not just for one body shape or size.

But, I'm really doing this because Jim and Chris's passion for this cause resonated so deeply with me! Their enthusiasm was really infectious -- so much so that I got my whole team on board! The Stephen Lewis Foundation puts money directly into the hands of grassroots organizations in Africa that are turning the tide on the AIDS pandemic in ways that are innovative, sophisticated and effective.

I've written before about the importance of finding a way to give back. And it inspires me to see others find that worthy cause that's a fit for themselves as individuals and as professionals. With so many worthy causes and ways of giving, it truly is about finding that organization that resonates with you as an individual.

If you would like to attend the show on March 22, please visit the Dare to Wear Love website for information and tickets... And, if you do attend, cross your fingers for me! I'll be doing my very best to take it slow and enjoy every step -- after all, fashion dreams are made of such moments!