The Academy Awards transform the simple act of sitting in a dark theater into an appreciation of the way film gives the viewer a moment to feel part of a larger existence. On Feb. 24, attendees of and participants in the second annual Oscars in Madison had a similar opportunity to experience the heightened glamour of the award show, while being contributors to both a cause and their community.
The event, hosted by Asiye's Boutique, started with a three-course meal by chef Silvio Suppa of Café Allegre, then moved to a cocktail reception and fashion show hosted at the Madison Art Cinemas with 40 models from Daniel Hand High School and The Morgan School and emceed by WTNH Channel 8's Erika Martin. The evening finished with a viewing of the Oscars live at the theater.
The high school women were outfitted in dresses from Asiye's Boutique and the men in suits from Angie Lu Tailors. The proceeds from the evening's ticket sales fund a scholarship at Hand for students interested in pursuing a career in fashion or retail.
Timothy Pamment, owner of Timothy Pamment Salon, which provided hair and makeup for the models, said each time his business participates in events in the community, it feels as though it's more connected.
"I think any time you can raise money in a local community, I think it's brilliant."
"This is not for helping my business," said Asiye Kay, owner of Asiye's Boutique. "I'm doing this to give back to the community."
In a scene akin to movie portrayals of runway organized chaos, the models started their day with clouds of hairspray, thundering pop music, and frequent checks of their cell phones as they waited in the salon for their hair to be spun up in top-knot buns.
The buns were a hairstyle designed to create a modern version of the '60s look that's again popular.
"We wanted to keep it young, we wanted to keep it fresh. We wanted something somewhat sophisticated, very current, not overplayed," Pamment said.
After completing hair and makeup at the salon, the models moved to Asiye's Boutique and then on to Madison Art Cinemas, where owner Arnold Gorlick said his cinema acted as the venue for Kay's creativity and as a vestibule for community gatherings.
"It's another place for the community to convene and have a sense of itself, which is part of the mission of the theater," Gorlick said.
When the time for the event finally arrived, and as the crowd settled in their movie seats, Kaye addressed them with, "Tonight is a celebration in every sense of the word. It is a celebration of the arts-the culinary arts, the art of fashion, the art of motion pictures, and the art of dreams. I'm really very happy this turned out to be a great success and maybe we will see you next year again."
After the runway show, Hand senior Jacob Gardner was proud, yet relieved because there was only one hour of practice prior to the final dress rehearsal and the entire event, with its hectic schedule, was a lesson in improvisation.
"I think it was a learning experience for all of us. A lot of us didn't really know what we were getting ourselves in to, so to speak, but it's been a lot of fun."