By KHAM SANAVONGSAY
Legacies of War
If you’re looking for a star-studded evening of great fashion, good food, and an amazing cause then you need to look at the upcoming Legacies of War fundraiser in New York on December 5, 2015, for “Fashion meets philanthropy.”
An impressive lineup of movers and shakers are stepping up to give back to the community, addressing the ongoing hazard of unexploded bombs in Laos. Since its beginnings in 2003, Legacies of War has sought to address this terrible crisis and today their mission is to raise awareness about the history of the Vietnam War-era bombing in Laos and advocate for the clearance of unexploded bombs, to provide space for healing the wounds of war, and to create greater hope for a future of peace. The organization uses “art, culture, education, community organizing and dialogue to bring people together and create healing and transformation out of the wreckage of war.”
Almost one-third of Laos is still contaminated with over 80 million unexploded cluster bombs. 2015 marks the fortieth anniversary since the end of the war in Laos. Over 230,000 Lao live in the US today, many arriving as refugees. This year is also the fifth anniversary of the United Nations Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans the manufacture, sale, use and stockpiling of cluster bombs.
One of the highlights of the night is the work of Monica Phromsavanh, CEO and co-founder of Modabox. ModaBox, a fashion company that specializes in “delivering a personalized, convenient shopping experience for busy women.” The company provides one-on-one personal stylist and deliver beautiful boxes packed with fully customized outfits to their clients.
Phromsavanh, a refugee from Laos, worked her way through retail, eventually quitting a 5th Avenue job to start her own business that now serves the NYC elite and women everywhere. The other major partner in the evening is ARTICLE 22, one of the pioneers in transforming war scrap into handmade luxury jewelry with the help of Laotian artisans. Founders Elizabeth Suda and Camille Hautefort have cultivated Lao talents to promote entrepreneurship and community development. Proceeds from the sales go to assist de-mining efforts of land contaminated by unexploded bombs.
In New York, Executive Chef Soulayphet Schwader’s Khe-Yo restaurant receives incredible raves in Tribeca for his take on Lao cuisine. He’ll be providing a delicious selection of his appetizers for guests, with support from Insurgo, “a community collective committed to nurturing the farm to table movement in low-income neighborhoods throughout the country.”
Live entertainers for the evening will include the rising Lao American vocalist Lina Luangrath, and the emcee will be the famous Catzie Vilayphonh, who was one of the first Asian American women on Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam as part of the spoken word duo Yellow Rage.
Earlier this Spring she organized the groundbreaking Laos in the House exhibit at the Asian Arts Alliance in Philadelphia. Among the special guests already confirmed is Fashion Designer Ari South, aka Andy South, a finalist for Project Runway Season 8 and contestant for All Star Season 3. Channapha Khamvongsa, the executive director of Legacies of War, will also be in attendance. She was featured in the New York Times for her advocacy.
“Laos in NYC: Fashion for Philanthropy” will be held in the famous Flatiron district, The organizers have billed it as an event featuring models who will “walk the runway with signature MODABOX styling, blending contemporary designers and traditional Laotian pieces, finished with ARTICLE22 Peacebomb Jewelry made by Laotian artisans from bomb scrap metal.” The evening will also feature a sponsored open bar and a Southeast Asian-themed holiday market and auction.
For more information you can visit Legacies of War online at: http://legaciesofwar.org/events/laos-in-nyc-fashion-for-philanthropy/