Beauty Arise: Los Angeles Fashion Week (Part 1)
Sometimes something happens and you aren't fully aware of the significance of it until much later... Like seven months later.
Los Angeles Fashion Week (LAFW), Hollywood, Calif. -- I braced myself as I waved my designer pass at the security guard, gliding past the red velvet ropes and lines of impatient glam-clad fashion connoisseurs.
At a Glance:
- Being Introduced to Beauty Arise -- a fashion industry ministry
- The reason I went to Los Angeles Fashion Week
- Letting someone else do my dreaming for me
I took a deep breath and prepared to step into the dark backstage frenzy of designers snapping at mousey assistants, directors broadcasting the travesty of a scuffed stiletto, or too-cool-for-us-all journalists voicing their dissatisfaction with their VIP treatment, the way I had at other fashion shows.
But when I stepped behind the black curtains, I could see this backstage area was different. A dozen girls sporting black T-shirts and graceful smiles scurried from station to station, offering to help and keeping everyone calm. I'd stepped into the room anticipating a war zone atmosphere, assuming I would be the only person there with a desire to be a light in a dark place, but the room was already alight.
After my show, a girl with a smile as bright as the spotlight at the end of the runway came up to me. "Can I pray for you?"
There I was, in Hollywood, in my little black dress and braces on my teeth, in a whirlwind of models, designers, and celebrities — and there was a girl with tattoos up her neck praying for me.
This was my first introduction to Youth With a Mission (YWAM)’s Beauty Arise ministry and some of the most beautiful people I have ever met.
This team of girls, gathered from four countries and a handful of states across the U.S., were at LAFW as a team of dressers. At fashion weeks, models have numerous outfit changes as well as hair and makeup changes and sometimes only seconds to make those changes. Dressers are brought in by the fashion week directors to help designers transition each model from one look to the next between walks.
Beauty Arise gets teams of girls from all over the world together to go to various fashion weeks to not only serve and help, but also to be a light and a testimony, to treat the models as more than just hangers— praying with them and offering encouragement.
Things get so chaotic backstage that people can get flat out nasty and self absorbed. The Beauty Arise team goes in to alleviate that tension.
After I met Jessica, the girl who had prayed for me, she invited me to go with her the following morning to pray with her group.
"On the outside, I was sitting around a table of green braids, winged eyeliner, and tattooed exteriors...."
So the next day, I was walking by James Dean’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on my way to meet the rest of her team. When I got there, my heart felt like it was going to burst with excitement.
On the outside, I was sitting around a table of green braids, winged eyeliner, and tattooed exteriors. But after an hour of talking, listening, and sharing, I was full of the feeling of belonging I first felt when meeting my fellow fashion-designing-lover-of-all-things-Audrey Hepburn at the Project Runway casting.
Only this time, it wasn’t just fashion that we had in common. This time I was surrounded by a team of young women who’s passion for Jesus was stronger than the surface level of fashion. This time I was with people who shared my purpose for getting out of bed in the morning. The purpose of loving people like Jesus does, through the medium of fashion.
When I first got invited to Los Angeles, I had turned down an invitation to New York Fashion Week because I just felt like L.A. was where God was calling me to go. When I stepped backstage at LAFW, I thought my purpose there was to be a light for others.
I thought I was there to help.
I didn’t know it was I who needed helping.
After I'd said goodbye to my new friends and my dresses were all safely loaded into the back of the Jeep, I left Los Angeles as a new person. Yes, I had just shown my collection at one of the worlds biggest fashion weeks, and the doors and brand exposure that opened from there were going to benefit my future, but that wasn’t why I had gone.
I came home from LAFW with renewed hope for the dreams that have been accumulating in my heart since I was nine years old. All along I have had ideas for how God can use the gifts he gave me through the fashion industry, but it wasn’t until LAFW that I was able to start pulling them together.
Before being introduced to Beauty Arise, I hadn’t met other Christians in the industry. I thought I was going into unpaved territory, which as seventh-generation farm girl who’s roots trace back to the first Oregon trail pioneers, wasn’t something I was afraid of, but knowing that I wasn’t going it alone was a huge relief. It gave me so much hope to see people who are living the dreams I have and really making it work.
For example, Jessica was raising money to go with the team to a fashion week in Spain. She had cleared her schedule for two months, packed her things, and made all the arrangements to go on the trip. The only setback? She was 8,000 dollars short of what she needed to go. And she had four days to get it.
“Uh, Jessica,” I said, “How are you going to raise 8,000 dollars in four days?!”
“Eh, no problem.” She said, nonchalantly. “God will provide.”
Five days later I saw her posting pictures from Spain; the money had come in.
Another girl didn’t know where she was going to stay when she got to L.A., but she came anyway. When she arrived, God provided and she had a place to stay.
I came home from LAFW with a whole new concept of walking by faith and trusting God with my dreams. I realized for the first time that the reason I had those dreams, those desires, was because God put them there.
And how much more beautiful can dreams be if you let the One who designed the stars in the sky design your life?
So I had made new friends, found hope for my future, and strengthened my relationship with the Lord. Those are all amazing things to get out of a week in L.A., but I knew there was something more. I didn’t know exactly what, but I knew that my experience with the Beauty Arise team as just a preview of something yet to come.
And one month ago, I found out what that was. One month ago I received an instagram direct message from one of the girls on the team.
“Hey we are in NY for Fashion Week. Lets meet up for coffee.”
And that’s how meeting up for coffee turned into a ten-day glitter shoed, camera flashing, love sharing, adventure of a lifetime.
Read more about Beauty Arise on their website!
I really want to say thank you to everyone who supported me going to LAFW. I couldn't have gone, let alone ended up where I am today without your generous donations, time, and support. I was so blown away by the waves encouragement that came in from my town and my community. Thank you SO much!
And thank you so much Ronda, Becca, Jet, Mom, Michele, and Grandma Janette for tagging along on the L.A. adventure and helping me! It meant SO much to me to have you there. I love you so much.