GREAT BARRINGTON — We women wish to be fashion fabulous. It’s our unique way to express ourselves and flaunt our truest colors from the inside out.
We glow with confidence and self-assurance in clothing and accessories that emulate our spirit and give us wings to fly.
So it’s only natural that when we see the word “sale” on clothing, you better believe we’ll flock like geese in search of the perfect bag, shoe, dress or jewelry to match our distinctive and flowering personalities.
Now, I’m about to reveal a best-kept secret in the fashion world of the Berkshires. This past weekend was the sixth annual celebration of BerkChique.
Founded by Nancy Fitzpatrick in 2012, BerkChique is a "fashionable alternative to the traditional fundraiser in the form of a pop-up boutique selling clothes and accessories collected from some of the most fashionable and stylish closets in the Berkshires.”
This year’s BerkChique was presented by Catwalk Boutique, the hippest shop in resale clothing, owned by and in support of The Berkshire Humane Society.
Catwalk co-founders Mimi Rosenblatt and Leslie Weil were at BerkChique to accommodate guests.
“Catwalk is the successful marriage of love of fashion and love for animals, a win-win combination for everyone,” Rosenblatt said.
She added, “We are so happy that 100 percent of the [shop’s] profit goes to The Berkshire Humane Society and Purradise owned by BHS.”
Proceeds from BerkChique were also donated to WAM Theatre, Community Access to the Arts, and IS183 Art School of the Berkshires.
The BerkChique event took place at White House Square on Stockbridge Road in Great Barrington, just next door to the Catwalk Boutique. Sponsors included Intouch Printing, Blue Q, and Prana Bar.
BerkChique’s First Dibs Shopping Party began Friday evening. Those with VIP admission tickets, which sold for $100, the doors opened at 5:30 p.m. General admission tickets, which sold for $25 apiece or $40 for a pair, granted access at 6:30 p.m.
More than 100 style-loving women attended and were filled with over-the-moon excitement as they picked and sampled materials in the finest of silks, cashmere, soft leathers, and luxurious furs. Prices for fashion finds ranged from $5 to more than $500.
Upon arriving through the door Friday night, one was hit with an extravaganza of color and bustling activity. Greeting guests and checking the admission list were Berkshire artist Rebecca Weinman aside David Scheker, Mark Lefenfeld and Mark Lee — the three who called themselves the “money men” as they processed sales. They also happened to be the husbands to Catwalk’s founding ladies Mimi Rosenblatt and Leslie Weil and clothing contributor Vicki Bonnington.
“I’m happy to be helping out for the sixth year. It’s an excellent cause I’m excited about,” said Scheker.
Judy Culver of Stockbridge also volunteered.
“I enjoy finding clothes for women and have a love for fashion and a sense of style I’m told,” Culver said.
To the right side of the room was a smorgasbord of Vickie Bonnington’s clothing for sale and to the left was a rainbow of merchandise from Catwalk.
Major clothing contributor Vicki Bonnington hosted her multifaceted selection of clothing in numerous designer labels.
“This is my sixth year contributing to BerkChique with a private sale of my clothing where 25 percent of the proceeds go to CATA, 25 percent to WAM, 25 percent to IS183 and 25 percent to BHS,” Bonnington said. “I’m proud to work with Catwalk and its co-founding ladies this year knowing 100 percent of the profits go to charity. We all love to donate our time in this cause and I just happen to have a lot of clothes!”
Catwalk cofounders Rosenblatt and Weil spoke about hosting the event as well as their journey in bringing Catwalk to fruition.
“We were both so passionate and wanted to combine our love of animals and of fashion together to form a business where 100 percent of the profits go to the Berkshire Humane Society,” Rosenblatt said. “At first, the project was rejected, but we persevered and in 2014 Catwalk opened.”
Rosenblatt and Weil generously donate their time and energy to the mission.
Rosenblatt, wearing her Girbaud dress and Zelda jacket, spoke passionately about the re-sale store.
“Many customers have remarked that they are now able to find sophisticated, quality clothing at affordable prices that were heretofore not locally available to them,” she said. “Catwalk has filled a niche that we didn’t even know needed filling. Our customers love to say that that shopping at Catwalk is the ultimate in guilt-free shopping.”
Wendy Darling of Berkshire Opera was there to volunteer her time in the sale of Vicki Bonnington’s jewelry.
“I’m here to help find treasures and care for the animals because we have to,” Darling said.
And speaking of animals, Cindy Bartlett, board president of the Berkshire Humane Society, was there volunteering with Danielle Hammel, one of her volunteers for the organization.
“I think this is fantastic and I am in awe of all the beautiful clothes, shoes, and jewelry!” Bartlett said. Together, Bartlett and Hammel posed for a photo.
Nearby was clothing connoisseur Jane Kavanau of Lenox who said, “This is so much fun and as with many of these fundraiser events, you get much more back than what you put in.”
All of the searching for items left the guests exhausted and in need of replenishment. So it was a welcome site to sip on a glass of wine and munch on the lovely spread of hors d’oeuvres and finger sandwiches, compliments of Prana Bar.
Carrie Wright of IS183, who wore Becket fiber artist Nathan Hanford’s dress, was accompanied by her daughter, Paige Wright, who said, “I think this is really cool with so many varieties of clothing for all ages.”
Jamie Delaney, an independent fashion consultant with LuLaRoe Clothing was there with her husband Kevin Delaney and they posed for a picture. LuLaRoe, an online women’s clothing company, opened in September 2015.
As the evening wore on, I strolled over to Catwalk with co-founder Mimi Rosenblatt for a tour.
The boutique is quaintly designed in vibrant color, and I was enveloped in labels by Michael Kors, Donna Karan, Dolce & Gabbana, Dior, Sonia Rykiel, Yoshi Yoshi, Chloé, Prada, Manolo Blahnik, and Armani. A message above the door states: “All of the homeless animals of Berkshire County are counting on your love, support, and generosity.”
Bravo to the volunteers, supporters and clothing contributors of BerkChique and to Catwalk and Vicki Bonnington for their successful presentation of a Berkshires-style, fashion-filled weekend in support of our animals in need.
Janel Harrison covers the Berkshires’ social scene for The Eagle.