NEW YORK — There might be some unexpected star wattage at New York Fashion Week next month — and all to help raise funds for the people of Darfur.
George Clooney has expressed interest in attending and speaking at a benefit fashion show being planned to help raise money for the residents of the war-torn area of the Sudan, according to designer Malcolm Harris of Mal Sirrah. Harris and Lydia Hearst-Shaw are organizing the event.
The DesignersForDarfur benefit is expected to be 8 p.m., Feb. 9, but the exact time and place have yet to be set. Those details hinge on Clooney’s availability, Harris said. The Oscar winner has taken a public role in exposing the atrocities in Darfur, and in April even went undercover with his father, Nick, an anchorman and columnist, to document the crisis on film.
Regardless of whether Clooney shows up, Chado Ralph Rucci, Zac Posen, Naeem Khan, Jeremy Scott, Sue Wong and Mary Ping are among the designers who have agreed to create an outfit that will be sent down the runway. Participants will make clothes in red, black, green or yellow, or any combination of those colors that are symbolic of Africa. Their creations will be auctioned online immediately after the event, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the nonprofit Save Darfur Coalition.
At least 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict and more than two million have been displaced, according to the Save Darfur Coalition. More than 3.5 million people in the region rely on international aid for survival, the group reported.
Despite those statistics, Harris has struggled to get more American designers involved in his project. “To be quite honest, it has been much more difficult than I could have ever imagined getting designers on board. This is not meant to be an indictment of the industry, but we have found it a bit shocking the number of persons that really don’t have a sense of the crisis in Darfur, which only makes this event even more challenging and inspiring.”
Save Darfur supporters Mia Farrow, Don Cheadle and Mira Sorvino are expected to be in the audience. Harris’ co-chair Hearst-Shaw walked in his September runway show and was part of the finale that featured Harris wearing a T-shirt with “Darfur Is Real” on the front and “Please Don’t Wait for the Movie!!” on the back. Encouraged by people’s reaction to that message, Harris set out to do something bigger.
“This event is not about one designer or a group of designers…,” he said. “This is truly a chance to show that we are not this self-consumed, superficial and/or elitist industry.”