2 min

‘Dark & sweaty & sexy’

Supermodels of community care

BOOGIE OOGIE. Step inside a surreal movie musical at this year's Fashion Cares. Credit: Xtra files

“I think I’ve always been about escape. I’ve always been about a big, huge movie musical – Fred and Ginger, Donny and Marie, and Carol Burnett. The glitter and passion! It’s about, ‘Forget your troubles, c’mon get happy.…'”

As a showbiz triple threat, David Connolly is wide-awake in dreamland describing his career as a singer, dancer and choreographer. For the past eight years he has helped breathe life into the annual Fashion Cares event as its main choreographer.

On Sat, May 29, the 18th annual Fashion Cares, this year dubbed Superstar Clublife, takes place at the Metro Convention Centre. Now Canada’s largest AIDS fundraiser, the event has raised $7-million for the AIDS Committee Of Toronto (ACT) since debuting in 1987.

Creative director and producer Phillip Ing has been with Fashion Cares since its inception at Toronto’s Diamond Club (now the Phoenix). “The first year our biggest challenge was that we were facing so much ignorance about the disease,” says Ing. “In 1987, AIDS was a very new disease that some people still thought you could pass through the air or through a handshake. Also, corporate sponsorship at that time was virtually nil. Sponsors didn’t even know what AIDS was, much less willing to give you money to back it up.”

And what about the challenges in 2004? “It’s still about trying to get the sponsorship dollars and keeping the event fresh.”

Having choreographed the 2002 film Bollywood/

Hollywood, Connolly is no stranger to larger than life productions. He says that this year’s Fashion Cares will be “dark and sweaty and sexy. It’s also very adult so you don’t have to worry about anything being ‘appropriate.'”

More than 75 designers will be on hand to show-off the hottest club couture in what Ing describes as “four club theme nights rolled into one.” Industry veterans such as Comrags will make a return visit, joined by labels like Bully and Layer, and designers Arthur Mendoza, David Dixon and Pat McDonagh.

Fashion Cares has always been a vocal diva’s musical playground. This year continues the trend. Patti LaBelle will headline (“I would walk on hot coals to see her,” says Connolly), joined by Martha Wash, Kristine W, Jocelyn Brown, Simone Denny and Lena Love (the latter two returning from 2003’s Vegas Casino Fashion Cares). No stranger to fashion, Canadian-born supermodel Linda Evangelista will host.

The catwalk will feature the usual mix of unusual suspects. “We have dancers who have been in Mamma Mia and Lion King,” says Connolly. “But one of the most exciting things to me is that it’s the first time we have ever had wheelchair models in the show.”

After 18 years on the scene, why should people continue to attend Fashion Cares? “To support the cause,” says Connolly. “They can use the night as a great excuse to have a good time and recognize the fact that [AIDS] isn’t over and we have to keep fighting a good fight.”


$350 for gala dinner.

$100 general admission.

$40 adv; $50 door for afterparty.

5pm-6am. Sat, May 29.

Metro Convention Centre (south building).

222 Bremner Blvd.

(416) 870-8000.