Top Canadian and South Sudanese models walked the runway Tuesday night at a gala designed to unite fashion and philanthropy.
The Walk for Water benefit, hosted by the West Vancouver-based Obakki Foundation in partnership with Holt Renfrew’s H Project, took place May 10 at the downtown Vancouver high-end department store and raised funds and awareness for clean water projects in South Sudan.
Obakki is a luxury label founded by West Vancouver resident Treana Peake in 2005. In 2009 the designer launched the Obakki Foundation, the philanthropic arm of her fashion brand. The registered charity focuses on providing clean water and education in Africa. Since its inception, the foundation has drilled more than 800 wells and brought water to more than one million people.
On Tuesday evening, Calgary-born supermodel Heather Marks opened the runway presentation. She was joined by other leading models from Canada and South Sudan, including Tasha Tilberg, Ajak Deng, Grace Bol, Achok Majak and Mari Agory, who walked the runway in Obakki’s latest designs and select pieces from Holt Renfrew’s current collections.
In addition to the fashion show, the evening featured guest speakers such as model, deejay and activist Mari Malek and actor and UN Refugee Goodwill Ambassador Ger Duany. Attendees also enjoyed a red carpet reception hosted by fashion media personality Susie Wall, sampled drinks and canapes, and were entertained by musical guest Emmanuel Jal, whose style of hip-hop draws inspiration from his past as a child soldier in South Sudan and his subsequent rescue.
“All of the work over the past few weeks was worth it to see how many people came out to support a cause that I believe in so deeply. I hope it shows that having fun and doing good for the world are by no means mutually exclusive,” said Obakki founder Treana Peake in a press release.
Proceeds from ticket sales and 10 per cent of Holt Renfrew sales after the event went towards the Obakki Foundation’s work to bring clean water to South Sudan through the drilling and monitoring of water wells in small villages.
Scarves for Water
Among the Obakki Foundation’s ongoing fundraising campaigns is its Scarves for Water program, which sells limited-edition scarves to raise money to drill wells in Africa.
Obakki is currently selling its 16th limited-edition scarf, called Brick. The sale of 500 of the lightweight modal blend accessories will bring clean water to the village of Mayen Atol in South Sudan. Right now, the people of the village and the nearby brick-making facility rely on contaminated water from hand-dug wells.
In addition to the new Brick colour, there are three other limited-edition scarves available, each hue assigned to a different village: Cobalt (village of Nyaga), Sand (village of Mayike) and Maize (village of Makernhom).
Once 500 of one colour have been sold, the style is considered retired and won’t be available again.
Scarves are $29 each at obakkifoundation.org. One hundred per cent of the net proceeds of each scarf goes towards building a well.