How do you define beauty? Frankly, this question is of much less importance when compared to Groundwork Opportunities‘ mission in this Define Beauty fashion show on Thursday, September 29. Dedicated to raise funds to build a clean water well for 4,000 people of Tanzania, Groundwork Opportunities invited 8 beloved local and emerging fashion designers to showcase their collection and share each designer’s take of beauty.

Kudos for Groundwork Opportunities, for the non-profit organization has a great mission to aid people in other countries who have to work extremely hard to get what we tend to take for granted here. Moreover, the 8 designers they gathered that night include names that I have always heard from the street but never seen personally (hi, Cari Borja!) and long-time favorites of mine (fancy seeing your new collection here, Dallas Parke! — previously known as Dallas Coulter).

So without further ado, here are the collections presented that night!
As usual, photography by Christian Hadidjaja.

Kajan Padraig

This time, the collection appears more focused than the first collection I saw. The subtle fun and flirt in the fabric slash details and ketupat weave give the pop in the clean silhouettes. The use of color, patterns, and details feel a bit too careful at times, and some looks may not come to live as much. However, the whole vibe of fun, young, dressed-up California casual still mostly came across fine.

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This collection’s strength is its construction and fit. Well-fitted jackets with utilitarian feel, as well as fitted shirts that would perhaps look great on skinnier people :) Well, that’s the beauty of customized shirts, right? So if you’re looking for clean-cut jackets and shirts, you may want to add MENK to your list of destination spot considerations.

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Retrofit Republic

The crowd-pleaser collection of the night, Retrofit Republic had their male models wear womenswear and vice versa. It’s nice to see that happening in local scene, and of course men in high heels brought out the excited cheers from the audience (not sure how much of a boost Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” track that played during the walk added into the excitement). The collection itself is fun to watch and I’m always a huge fan of menswear on women, but visually I don’t really know what to say about the womenswear on men. The heels were a bit too distracting, maybe?

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Sarah Lilier

Summer dresses are young and fun, but Sarah added more tailored fit into her dresses. There’s a sense of refinement and control to all the fun silhouettes that walked down the runway. No wonder this girl’s getting much love from the local community. Congrats Sarah!

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Ken Chen & James Eugene

I like the urban / modern geometric / architectural shapes that are presented in black. But I think the stand-out is the black jacket & pants ensemble that makes the model look like a chic motorcyclist who just parked her Ducati on the street somewhere and strut confidently into her favorite shopping stores. If there’s one thing I may not love about this outfit, it’s the shoes. Too pretty. If you want to go femme fatale, go all the way! Black booties with mean stiletto heels would do the job. And I also love the last look that has the diagonal zipper and bunch of chains dangling at the back. Overall, this collection is quite strong, but I wish there’s more pieces like the last one. I really don’t mind some more edgy :)

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Daniel Sudar

One of the first keywords that buzz around Daniel Sudar is James Franco. And this is my first time seeing the real thing in person. I personally like the dove grey suit. Clean and well-tailored. The suit with knit hoodie is also something I see applicable immediately in SF streets. But from where I’m seated, sometimes it looked like the arm hole / triceps fit of the sleeves was a bit too big for the models. And the last look, the blue/white patterned blazer was my least favorite, unfortunately. The patterns looked a bit much and the fit was not as good as some of the prior looks that walked the runway.

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Cari Borja

Ruffles galore! My favorite of the night, hands down. Yes, sometimes the looks came across as borderline glamorous sea creature / mermaid, but for the most part, Cari infused the right amount of glamour into the gowns. My personal favorite is the maroon / burgundy coat (I want it!). And the tutu skirt was awesome. Overall, really well-tailored and look really comfortable to wear despite its glamour factor. Great collection.

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Dallas Parke

I like how Dallas’ collection this time appears a little bit less serious, more relaxed, but retains the modern, urban, Victorian accents she’s really good at (on previous AIC-SF Fashion Show, she’s known as Dallas Coulter). Well-tailored as always, this collection is very “Dallas Parke”. I like the back details of the 2nd look (even though she probably shouldn’t sit down in it without taking off her jacket), as well as the bodice with transparent, sparkly floor-length skirt (what a sexy siren!). Well done, Dallas.

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Congratulations to all the designers and Groundwork Opportunities for this Define: Beauty 2011 fashion show! Looking forward for more innovative, creative looks that come from San Francisco’s beloved designers.

Have a great day,

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