Salute the Runway: 15 Military Servicewomen Will Open NYFW

Mark your calendars – this is one opening act you won’t want to miss. Fifteen current and former military servicewomen will open New York Fashion Week at Lincoln Center on September 3.


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Sponsored by Little Black Dress Wines and Fatigues to Fabulous, the “Salute the Runway” show stems from a military-base program to raise awareness of the challenges servicewomen face as they transition back to civilian life, one of which is their wardrobe.

Members of the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard will walk the runway, representing ranks from sergeant to lieutenant commander. Each of the 15 participants will model variations of the iconic LBD from design houses including DKNY, Calvin Klein, Carmen Marc Valvo, and Mara Hoffman. Off the catwalk, historic uniforms dating back to World War I will also be on display from the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation in Washington – quite the contrast to those modern numbers in the show.

Leslie Nicole Smith, a retired Army captain and campaign spokeswoman, is one of the veterans strutting in New York. “This campaign is a wonderful opportunity to support female veterans throughout the country,” Leslie told WWD. “We are able to raise awareness of the issues surrounding women veteran reintegration, acknowledge their heroic service, and highlight the versatility of the little black dress and how this wardrobe staple can help women veterans transition from military service.”

The participating designers are just as excited for New York Fashion Week as the women in the show. “Some of these women have been in the service for 20 years and have spent their entire careers there, and when they leave the service they have to be reintroduced to a different society,” said Carmen Marc Valvo. “We can empower them in a different way and help them rediscover who they were. They’re used to fatigues and combat boots and not carrying lipstick, wearing a dress and killer heels. Their stories are so compelling and they’ve sacrificed so much for us. They’re the unsung heroes to a certain extent.”

New York Fashion Week is always a big deal. But this season’s feel-good twist allows for some reflection before the style frenzy ensues. Now that’s a cause I can get behind.

By Brianna Lapolla, Staff Writer

What do you think of military servicewomen walking the runway? Tweet us at @ruelala.

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