What do art, fashion, bras and cancer awareness have to do with each other? Just ask any of the 2,100 people that have been served in the last year by the Breast Cancer Resource Center (BCRC). On June 6, guests gathered at Art Bra Austin, a dramatic runway gala, that raises funds for BCRC's work.
The evening highlighted 70 original art bras created by Austin’s creative community of professional and amateur designers, artists, and jewelers. The looks came together in a stunning runway show and auction to benefit BCRC and help the nonprofit organization provide services and resources to more women (and men) diagnosed with the disease.
One of this year's stunning art bras, "He/She," highlighted not only women who get breast cancer. Jeanne Elliott, the artist who created this bra, took her inspiration from last year’s show, which featured Art Bra Austin’s first-ever male model. Elliott, a client of BCRC who has been in remission since December 2013, designed and modeled "He/She."
"Last year Art Bra had a male model who was also a breast cancer survivor. It seems that the media focuses on the females, and I wanted to show that breast cancer isn’t gender specific," she explained.
This art bra, along with the 69 others, were displayed and auctioned off at the gala. A spectacular wall featuring 65 bras available for silent auction was a focal point of the evening. The remaining five art bras were auctioned off live during the event by professional auctioneer Gayle Stallings, who returned for the third year along with co-emcee Jarrett Crippin.
"What I love about this event is how all the aspects of it pay tribute to the courage, strength and tenacity of the survivors, thrivers and lifers walking the runway or as floor models," Stallings said. "These models are passionate about giving back to the Breast Cancer Resource Center at a time when they needed it most, and their joy for living is infectious."
While Crippin introduced the models of the runway show, telling their stories and describing the bras and artists, it was Stallings' job to motivate guests to open their hearts — and wallets — to bid on the creations.
"Treasured Chest V: Putting the Pieces Together" sold for $8,000 — the highest bid of the night. It was created by Dianne Sonnenberg and Monica Meadows, who were inspired by the era of Byzantine mosaics. The piece was made of different shades of 24k Cobalt Blue gold pieces, each hand-cut to a specific shape.
Stallings was moved by a young woman who approached her after the runway show, sharing that she had lost her mother to breast cancer. "She said that every mini story I shared during the Fund-a-Mission special touched her so deeply and moved her to tears, but in a good, therapeutic way. She thanked me for being real in the way I put a face and story with the disease."
"I’m astounded by the outpouring of support evident at this year’s Art Bra Austin," said Ray Anne Evans, Executive Director of BCRC. "Our clients who participated as models displayed an awe-inspiring beauty born of their resilience in the face of this dreadful disease. Every guest walked away uplifted by the solidarity of this special community of women. I am so proud to be the Executive Director of such a remarkable organization."
In all, Art Bra Austin 2015 raised $390,000 for the Breast Cancer Resource Center — beating the original goal by $40,000.