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Published: Thursday, 5/2/2002

Natural-fiber styles set for the runway

FROM BLADE STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS

Happy Badger Trading Post will hold a “Funky Fashion Show” at 4 p.m. Saturday, with customers modeling the Toledo store's natural-fiber clothes.

The 45-minute show will take place on the first floor of 3145 West Central Ave. (Cricket West). Admission is $5. Proceeds will benefit the Leukemia Society of America.

The store stocks colorful clothes made by co-ops and families in Ecuador, Guatemala, and India, and gives customers a cup of tea for stopping by.

“Elegance Is an Attitude,” a fashion show benefiting Sparrow's Nest, begins at 1:15 p.m. Saturday in the Owens-Illinois atrium and auditorium, One SeaGate, in downtown Toledo. The event starts with a tea, and the show begins at 2 p.m.

Clothes, hats, and accessories will come from Syl's Touch of Elegance, CJ's Closet, Jill Henning Fineries, the Optical Shop, DJ's Delights, and Friends of the Library.

Sparrow's Nest is an emergency shelter for women. The $20 admission fee to the show will help buy supplies for the shelter's new kitchen.

“Fashion Knockout: Round 8,” a fashion show and competition of African-American designers, will take place at 6:15 p.m. June 30 in the Sheraton Cleveland City Centre Hotel in Cleveland.

Advance tickets are $35 for reserved seats and $25 for general admission. At the door, general admission tickets will cost $30. The show will be in the grand ballroom of the hotel, 777 St. Clair Ave.

Last year's show featured often outrageous fashions from seven designers.

Barbie creator Ruth Handler, who died Saturday, inspired generations of little girls - and even one little boy. Fashion designer Carmen Marc Valvo admits to finding creative sparks in the dolls as a child.

“I remember designing dresses for my sisters' Barbie dolls,” he said. “Then when I was in school, I would take a Burberry raincoat, take out the lining, dye it green, and wear it as a vest. I was always doing strange things to my clothes.”

These days, Mr. Valvo dresses some of the world's most beautiful women. Since establishing his fashion house in 1989, he has distinguished himself as a notable eveningwear designer whose regulars include Vanessa Williams and Oprah Winfrey.

With his collections of classy gowns and cocktail dresses, he has been the designer of choice for many stars on award nights. At this year's Academy Awards, Denzel Washington's wife, Pauletta, stepped into the spotlight in a gorgeous lavender silk strapless gown with seams that dramatically raced down the bodice. And actresses who have chosen him for award shows include Catherine Zeta-Jones, Lucy Liu, Halle Berry, and Bridget Fonda.

In designing, Mr. Valvo said he looks to the fabric for inspiration.

“The fabric sometimes talks to you,” he said. “As the fabric comes in and you start playing with it, your plans start to evolve.”

“If you get too excited, you get too depressed and disappointed afterward,” he said. “One time there was a very famous celebrity who wore one of my gowns. I'm watching the Oscars, she was wearing my gown and they're, like, `Who are you wearing?' and she goes, `Oscar de la Renta.' And I'm, like, `That's not Oscar de la Renta. That's my gown!'

“I was furious,” he added. “She was cut off. I've never sent her a gown since. She asks, but we don't give them to her, so she buys retail.”



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