Ground Breaking Activism Redefining and Reforming All Systems (G.A.R.R.A.S.) is an unlikely — or perhaps revolutionary — name for a fashion show extravaganza that has now firmly planted itself at the top of Los Angeles’ newly burgeoning fashion industry (its show calendar now rivals New York). But to the gender nonconforming community and numerous high fashion models, designers and stylists, it’s no surprise at all because the trans community, particularly the community at the TransLatin@ Coalition in Los Angeles, know how to throw a party for a cause.
Raising funds for the TransLatin@ Coalition is imperative, said Maria Roman, vice president and chief operations officer of the coalition. “Last year, we raised $120k, which gave us the ability to launch transitional housing for trans people in need. This year, we hope to raise even more.”
Roman believes attending the uplifting fashion show is an ideal way to combat the somber feelings the Los Angeles trans community feels as they commemorate Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20th.
“While Transgender Day of Remembrance is a very sad day for our incredible community, remembering the lives of those who have passed away, we hope that by showcasing trans lives who are living and thriving in our society, we can focus on empowerment and inspiration,” Roman said.
Every event participant is an activist who impacts their lives and that of others, noted Roman. “People provide their art, time, talent and many other multiple skills, while raising funds to uplift and mobilize the trans and gender nonconforming community. This creates a beautiful space of self expression and total acceptance.”
The TransLatin@ Coalition is an organization that non binary shoe designer, Nik Kacy, has been passionate in supporting since the first time they met its founder, Bamby Salcedo.
“Her journey from turning her life around and triumphing, creating a empowerful and much needed organization that helps so many trans people of color (particularly black and brown trans women) is something that continues to inspire me,” enthused Kacy.
“In our partnership as friends and as influencers in the LGBTQ+ community, we have supported one another in many ways,” said Kacy. “ I’m proud to say that for 2019, the Coalition was our first time fiscal sponsor for Equality Fashion Week, which enabled us to provide vendors the opportunity to support us via a tax-deductible sponsorship.
Equality Fashion Week was also one of G.A.R.R.A.S’ community partners this year and we are so proud to continue to keep the collaboration going!”
G.A.R.R.A.S is also an opportunity for the broader community to support trans leadership, pointed out Salcedo.
“As the first trans led organization in Los Angeles, providing direct, supportive and life saving services to trans, gender non-conforming people, it’s important that we continue to support the work that trans people have been doing to support our community, with little to no resources.”
The Coalition also supports local trans leadership, providing support to trans people who are incarcerated in correctional settings and in immigration detention.
This is the third year fashion designer Johanna Padilla will be participating in the runway show.
“It brings my two loves and passions together—fashion and advocacy—by placing trans beauty center stage and showcasing the diversity of fashion with trans people,” Padilla said. “The coalition has really helped me provide a platform to showcase my talents as a trans individual over the years.”
Padilla’s latest collection, Fallen vs. Angels, illustrates the beauty of the trans experience “while symbolizing the way the world views us vs how we view ourselves,” she said.
“You can expect a lot of sparkle, fantasy, sultry and a whole lot of trans bodies!” Padilla quipped. Not to mention many bright and bold colors as well as numerous crystals!
“My style is a mixture of old Hollywood style burlesque and Victoria’s Secret,” she explained. “But more inclusive—making everyone and anyone feel beautiful, regardless of size, color and where they are in their transition,”
Sharpe Suiting will also be a part of the runway fundraiser. “Bamby and her organization have been a positive influence on me ever since I found my identity as a transgender person of color for the past 20 years,” said Leon Wu, the founder and CEO.
Sharpe’s presentation concept for this Saturday’s show is RICH BITCH. “As part of our concept, we will be highlighting jewel-toned suiting separates and silk gowns accented with golden chains, accessorized with silk scarves and pocket squares,” said Wu. “The style will be a very avante-garde representation of retro ‘80s and being rich in our own self-love and colorful identities.”
Highlighting trans women and androgynous identities from the male to female spectrum of color, Wu’s runway participation is dedicated to “all the trans people of color with the hope that they can live a very RICH and empowered life, despite the struggles we have been through together as a trans community.”
Performance artist Jazzmun has participated in the show for the last four years. “This time, I’m presenting garments I’ve worn throughout my career as an entertainer. I’m calling it “Memories Of Me: A Love ❤️ Story,” she said.
Jazzmun added: “I support The TransLatin@ Coalition and all the great work they do. It’s an honor to help raise money for an organization that provides and enhances the lives of our trans and gender non-conforming communities. The night is enchanting and amazing! We deserve to look and feel our best. Fashion is for everyone.”
The TransLatin@ Coalition (TLC) presents G.A.R.R.A.S. Fashion Show on Saturday, Nov. 23, 7 p.m. at the Double Tree by Hilton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel, 120 South Los Angeles Street, Los Angeles.