Wellesley’s own Wonder Woman — athlete, cancer survivor, and fundraiser extraordinaire — dresses to impress wherever she goes. You might see the veteran Boston Marathon runner around town training for her next race (or just to keep her energy level up), wearing her signature color, orange. Or you can spot her and husband Amin walking their beloved pups Finn and Ollie — look for her orange boots if it’s a rainy day. And nobody slides into an MRI scanner with more aplomb and looking better than she.
But at Vintage Vogue, the fashion show/fund raiser at Regis College to benefit the Dana-Farber Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) Research Center, Carol Chaoui looked especially in her element as she sashayed across the stage in an elegant yellow and gold brocade boatneck shift with three-quarter sleeves. On her feet: gold shoes accented with a tiny bow on each, saved from being called flats by a 1/4″ heel. In a nod to 1920s Flapper style, her 3″ headband sported feathers. A simple long gold necklace finished off the long, lean look. And this was just one of the four outfits the mother of four modeled.
Only Chaoui could get 350 people to abandon their Athleisure wear for the night and dress way up in their vintage best for the event, which raised big bucks to fight breast cancer. Chaoui said, “When online ticket sales closed, we were just shy of $60,000 and we hope to bring in more with the online auction which starts October 1. We’re hoping to get to $75,000.” An MBC patient herself, Chaoui spent months planning the fashion show and styling it with Patrice Goldman from Renew Arts & Industry. Goldman’s Natick shop carries vintage mid-century items, contemporary original art, and new stuff with an emphasis on mid-century modern’s clean lines and cool vibe. Chaoui even has her own spot named after her at Renew. It’s called Carol’s Corner and it’s bursting with vintage clothing and accessories, many of which doubtless turned up on some of the 30+ fashion show models. Kelley Tuthill, former WCVB reporter who reigned at that station for 18 years, emceed the evening.
Attendees enjoyed themselves as they mingled, sipped wine and nibbled on tasty bites, but the evening was set up to be educational as well. Lisa Mullins of WBUR was on hand to lead a special panel discussion about the Dana-Farber Metastatic Breast Cancer Research Center and the work it does to fund new treatments to fight the disease. “The panel discussed clinical trials, new options and the need for funding as less than 7% goes to MBC research, with the largest amount going to ‘raising awareness’,” Chaoui said.
Attendee Martha Collins said, “It was inspiring to meet so many vibrant women living with breast cancer. I was surprised to learn that less than 10% of breast cancer research funding is focused on metastatic forms of the disease. Events like this that are focused specifically on funding research for MBC are clearly needed. This makes me especially proud of Carol, who has personally raised more than $300k for this research.”
“Patrice and her team really raised the bar super-high,” Chaoui said. “This was so much more than a runway show. It was really a theatrical production. She has a great crew of volunteers and extraordinary lighting, technical and sounds folks who made it an evening to remember.”
Carol, darling, you’re my style icon. Keep swanning around town in your cool clothes, and I promise I will try to keep up. When shopping I always ask myself, “Would Carol approve?” If the answer is yes, and the cut of the cloth is twirly, and the cost/benefit analysis fits (not gonna lie, I usually make it fit), I buy it.
Congratulations on a fabulous fundraiser to all the organizers. Surely someday MBC will be nothing but a vintage disease, the kind that stays forgotten in the closet, never to come out again.