Refugees from conflict areas around the world are making a home in Charlottesville and this weekend a fashion show will raise money to help them.
Kristina Constantine is a fashion designer and on Saturday a line of her women's wear will be modeled at a benefit for the International Rescue Committee. Constantine is a former refugee herself and is an example of how a new country and handful of opportunity can turn into a bright new future. Constantine samples fabric swatches, flips through her design book and holds with pride clothing labels that dawn her name. It's a dream come true for a girl who just six years ago was a refugee from Russia.
"When you come to the place where so many opportunities are open for you, it's really hard not to take advantage of it," said Constantine.
Constantine and her parents were placed in Charlottesville by the International Rescue Committee or IRC. It's an organization that creates opportunities for refugees to make a home in the United States, said Clare Politano, Resource Developer with the IRC.
"They're extremely driven individuals many of whom come here with extraordinary talents and education," said Politano.
Constantine graduated from the Parsons New School for Design in New York last summer. She then created a line of men's wear that was modeled at a fashion show to raise money for the International Rescue Committee in Charlottesville last year. This year she's back with seven looks for women. Those designs are top secret and will be revealed at the show but she said she was inspired by Virginia.
"I just wanted to do something beautiful. Something totally different from my every day life experience," said Constantine.
"It's a pleasure to work with people like Kristina because she's so very inspiring even though she started off in really difficult circumstances. Now she's here in Charlottesville and building an amazing life for herself," said Politano.
Last summer Constantine and her parents became U.S. citizens.
The fashion show is Saturday, May 15th from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at City Space on the downtown mall in Charlottesville.
Tickets: $75 per person, $50 for individuals under 30
Enjoy hors d'oeuvres, Virginia wine, music by Dzian