• September 22, 2014

Show to feature AAFES fashion lines

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Posted: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 4:30 am

A fashion show is aiming to celebrate female soldiers and veterans while showcasing different fashion lines available on post.

Fort Hood’s Army & Air Force Exchange Service will host Salute the Runway Fashion Show at 1 p.m. June 21 at the Clear Creek Main Exchange Food Court. Sponsored by Little Black Dress Wines and Fatigues to Fabulous, the event will feature current and former military women modeling a variety of current fashions.

Teresa Palu, event organizer and the sales and merchandise manager at the store, said the show is a way to inform people about the mission of the national organization Fatigues to Fabulous.

“They’re trying to bring knowledge to the female service members and veterans as to what their program is about,” she said.

Retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, former V Corps commander and head of the Coalition Ground Forces in Iraq from 2003-2004, will be the show’s keynote speaker.

Leslie Nicole Smith, a retired Army captain and spokesperson for Fatigues to Fabulous, said “our mission is to support female service members and veterans as they transition from military to civilian life by raising awareness of the issues and challenges they face and advocate for resources to help.”

As a result of serving in Bosnia, Smith lost part of her left leg due to a blood clot and later, most of her vision, leaving her legally blind.

Although her injuries are noncombat related, Smith said she can identify with those who have suffered similar injuries on the battlefield.

“When you’re deployed, you do what you have to do to complete the mission,” she said. “Helping others is now my passion.”

The goal is that the fashion show will raise awareness for women in the military, but Smith said they also just want this to be an enjoyable and fun event.

“We proudly wear the uniform but we’re still women underneath,” she said. “We’re still females who like getting dressed up and the show is a great way to highlight the versatility of the little black dress and demonstrate the various ways it can be worn for any occasion as they transition out of the military.”

Volunteers are still needed to model fashions, Palu said, adding that they will receive 20 percent off any AAFES clothing that day. People attending the fashion show will receive 10 percent off items.

One lucky lady will be randomly selected from the Fort Hood models to fly to New York City during Fashion Week to participate in the Salute The Runway show followed by a reception at Lincoln Center.

“It’s going to be a great event, a special event,” Smith said. “We’re really excited to provide this opportunity.”

Smith got to strut her stuff when she was chosen to represent the Army and the nonprofit on an episode of “Project Runway” in January 2013.

The experience deeply affected Smith, whose yellow Lab service dog Issac helped her navigate the runway.

“It was so empowering and my confidence level just sky-rocketed,” Smith said. “I did that and thought, ‘I’m proud to represent my service branch and I’m proud to be a woman.’”

She hopes the military women who participate in the Fort Hood show will feel this way, too.

“As a former service member, I want other women to have the same phenomenal experience that I had,” she said.

Those interested in modeling can visit the Clear Creek store and apply at the jewelry counter.

For more information about Fatigues to Fabulous, go to www.fatiguestofabulous.com.

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