Fashion show to celebrate Wichita’s diversity and history

The Multicultural Fashion Show and Fundraiser will tell Wichita’s history through fashion from the 1850s to present day.
The Multicultural Fashion Show and Fundraiser will tell Wichita’s history through fashion from the 1850s to present day. Courtesy photo

Poodle skirts and bell bottoms are making a fashion comeback in Wichita – at least for one night.

The Multicultural Fashion Show happening Saturday night at the Sedgwick County Extension Center will tell Wichita’s history through clothing and performances that represent the community’s past and present residents. The show’s narrative will start with the 1850s and focus on the decades through present-day Wichita.

The event is meant to bring home the fact that people of various ethnic backgrounds have been around for decades in Wichita and helped it develop, said show organizer Margarita LaFarelle-Hunt. Some cultures and decades will be showcased through performances, while others will be featured through fashion.

A sacred drum performance by Native Americans will recognize Wichita’s first inhabitants, and cowboys and saloon girl dancers from Old Cowtown Museum will represent the city’s early days.

A Chinese cultural dance performance and a mariachi band will represent the Chinese and Mexican immigrants who worked on the early railroads.

Show-goers will also see some iconic styles, such as flapper dresses, poodle skirts and bell bottoms. Rosie the Riveter will walk the runway to celebrate the women who worked in the aircraft industry during World War II.

“We want to give people a better understanding of our diverse cultures and show that it didn’t happen just now or recently but from the very beginning,” said LaFarelle-Hunt, president and co-founder of the Multicultural Education and Celebration Association in Wichita. “The tag line of the show, We are America’s Strength, shows that the diversity of cultures has been here a long time and helped build Wichita.”

The event also has a philanthropic nature to it, serving as a fundraiser for several organizations that either provide resources or education to Wichitans, such as health and medical assistance, cultural education or job training skills for formerly incarcerated women. The organizations, which are involved in staging the show, are New Life Reentry, La Familia Senior Community Center, Delta Theta Tau Sorority, Amira Dance Productions and the extension center. A silent auction starts at 6 p.m.

The show also is supporting relief efforts that continue for victims of the Puerto Rico hurricane and the recent Nebraska flooding. Show-goers can bring items that will be donated for those efforts, such as trash bags and gloves for cleanup, and other needed supplies, such as diapers for adults and children, pet food and more, said LaFarelle-Hunt.

Multicultural Fashion Show

What: A showcase of Wichita’s history from the 1850s to the present told through fashion and performances

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, May 18; silent auction from 6-7 p.m.

Where: Sedgwick County Extension Center, 7001 W. 21st St.

Tickets: Available for purchase at the door; $10 for adults, $5 for youth ages 7-17, free for children 6 and younger