TMG International Annual Style LA Swim & Resort Runway Fashion Show - The Beautiful & the Ugly aka Yet Another Hollywood Paradox

On an unseasonably cool Hollywood night, the rooftop of Drais Hollywood (W Hotel) is abuzz with shivering models, trendy fashionistas,  preening actors, glamorous “it” people,  and sycophantic photographers, all gathered together for a fashion show in support of a charity by the name of OPERATION OF HOPE (OOH).   The annual event, promoted by TMG International, appears to be a good cause, and according to press release info, OOH is a non-profit, all-volunteer medical foundation, comprised of a team of doctors, nurses, and other volunteers primarily dedicated to performing cleft-lip and cleft-palate surgeries, as well as other types of facial reconstructive surgery for people in need throughout various developing countries, particularly in Africa.   The press materials further state that OOH has performed some 1800 surgeries for babies through young adults, and donated over $1 million in free medical care each year.   Apparently, OOH has several notable celebrity supporters, including Bianca Jagger, Hugh Jackman, and Katherine Heigl (who donated her line of scrubs to OOH, although no word about whether she provides any percentage of her eight figure film role remunerations).

Encircling the rooftop, there are a variety of sponsors promoting their luxury products, from SMART bottled water to diamond jewelry to stylish fashion lines.  In the realm of design, the litany of names is both famous and lesser known, including Nina Ricci, John  Varvatos,  Raffaella D’Angelo, Hollywood Million Denim, and Naven.    The president of TMG International, Christine King, scurries from one cluster of people to another, greeting and massaging the egos of the rich and famous guests and attendees, who include Victor Drai and Elaine Wynn.

It is a velvet rope affair and, as is the Hollywood custom, everybody is put into their proper place.  If you do not have the requisite wristband, you cannot stand in a certain section.  Oh, and just remember, you must never block the view of the club owner and his celebrity guests, instead, if you are a mere plebe, you must stand aside and accept an obstructed view of the exalted parade of beauties.  After a long delay though, the emcee steps forward, attempts to make a few enlightening comments about OPERATION OF HOPE, but unfortunately, nobody is listening, since the whole charitable concept is a real “downer,”  and the crowd continues babbling loudly.   Increasingly exasperated, the emcee shouts angrily, trying to remind the Hollywood denizens that the fashion show has a worthy cause that transcends an occasion to network, obtain a new acting gig, or show off the latest outfit purchased on Rodeo Drive.  Finally, the music kicks in along with bouncing spritely vocals singing, “La La La La,” and the flesh and fashion fiesta unfolds, as one scowling wafer thin teenage model after another catwalks arrogantly and haughtily down the runway, no doubt thankful that they exited the womb as a societal “goddess,” devoid of a  cleft-palate that would have left them unemployed, not to mention a scarred and unpopular childhood.  Yes, it is truly a “La La La La” world for the rich, beautiful, and famous!

Now, before this correspondent begins to receive hate email from certain increasingly agitated readers who feel this article is an unwarranted attack upon a worthy cause, first, it is worth underscoring that any event genuinely striving to assist the disadvantaged and the suffering deserves both praise and support.  Furthermore, anybody who exerts any heartfelt and substantive efforts to alleviate pain in our often callous indifferent world should receive some kind of reward, if not in this life, then in Heaven.  

However, the goal may be good, but the methodologies are just plain “strange.”

By what weird logic does a fashion show extolling the virtues of anorexic “beauty,” as defined by our Big Media propaganda machine, seem to be an appropriate fit for a benefit that is aimed at offering medical support for those suffering facial defects that place them in the category of what we call, “ugly?”   What is the bizarre rationale that creates an event devoted to extolling the rich, famous, and narcissistic on behalf of those who are lucky to afford a pair of shoes and whose definition of beauty is simply having the ability to form a misshapen mouth into a normal smile?   Who made the misguided decision that, in support of a tremendous social cause such as facial reconstruction, aimed particularly at poor people in Africa, various controversial sponsors would be enlisted who are not exactly considered to be at the vanguard of social responsibility (e.g. diamond merchants or bottled water distributors)???    How could gift bags filled with cosmetic products and beauty promotions be handed out at the end of the event, in which not one speck of OPERATION OF HOPE literature was included???  Frankly, it is beyond paradox, almost bordering on the obscene!   

Hollywood is a town in which a plethora of catwalk events occurs almost every week and there are far more similarities in approach than any real differences.  So here are a few suggestions for the next annual Style LA event in order to transform the event into something more than just another rather banal fashion show while simultaneously enhancing audience interest in OPERATION OF HOPE (OOH):

1.   Why not invite a number of those OOH pro-bono medics and nurses to the event, and allow a few of them to exhibit some of the fashion lines, while the emcee reads the impressive resumes of their social action?  Isn’t it far past time that we shine a spotlight on the kinds of people who OUGHT to be our societal icons instead of  young arrogant narcissistic kids whose chief attribute is that they know how to walk, twirl, and pivot?  We have dire critical shortages of nurses and doctors in certain fields, and we need to raise the image of those people so that our youth will be inspired to enter vocations in crisis.
2.   Why not invite several of the disadvantaged youth who have undergone surgeries to model several fashion lines, and simultaneously, have film screening above them that reveals how they looked PRIOR to their reconstructive surgeries?  That BEFORE-AFTER approach would have dramatic impact upon the audience in providing everybody a first hand education of how the rectification of a body defect can turn that person into a veritable “beauty,” maybe not quite in the same vein as the Victoria Secret angel, but certainly a beauty in the eyes of family and friends.
3.   Remove the velvet rope approach from the event and get rid of the snotty VIP lists and ribbons. After all, OOH seeks to assist disadvantaged people, NO matter who they are.  The elitist approach to a velvet rope fashion show event is an unacceptable contradiction for all the egalitarian ideals that  OOH supposedly embodies.
4.   Find sponsors whose products are designed for social activist purposes so that there is no logical disconnect between the sponsors’ aspirations and those of OOH.   Otherwise, the choice of sponsors makes a mockery of the goals promoted by OOH.
5.   Make sure there is a large number of OOH spokespersons at the event who can mingle with the crowd and inspire a worthy dialogue that transcends airhead topics, such as favorite LA clubs, most beloved reality TV shows, favorite texting devices, etc.

Whether or not these suggestions meet the standards of TMG International, one thing is certain:  a new fairly radical approach is required in order to remake the Annual Style LA event, converting it into a genuinely inspirational experience, one that truly reflects the social goals for which it aspires.

Photos courtsey (c) 2011 Monte Bubbles Enterprises.

Video Lawrence Davis

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