North Bay Fashion Ball pushes boundaries and creates a safe space for all

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Local fashion designers joined forces May 28 for North Bay’s first Fashion Ball and Pageant at Petaluma’s Phoenix Theater to benefit Face to Face, a Santa Rosa nonprofit working to end HIV in Sonoma County.

To kick off the evening, dancers from Santa Rosa Junior College and Temple of the Goddess Isis, an interfaith temple in Geyserville, accompanied by drummers, paraded around the venue “to create a towering cyclone of booty-shaking energy”, according to organizer Cincinnatus Hibbard.

Participants, encouraged to come dressed in bright and daring outfits, then paraded for a chance to win a tiara in one of eight themed categories: tarot card, Met Gala, gender drag, pop/rock star, upcycled/recycled, festival porter, Y2K and various.

Sporting a handmade rainbow bodysuit, Jaqueline Smith was declared the overall winner and was asked to showcase a fashion collection at next year’s event.

A fashion show highlighted the works of Hibbard’s hand-picked designers and stylists, each representing a different aesthetic and age range. Featured are designer Janet Aguirre, ethical fashion duo Mathilde Amiot and Joshua Thwaites of Big Mouth Unique, artist and clothing painter Alejandro Salzar and Buck Lucky Collective founder Lena Claypool.

The evening ended with a performance by Yozmit the Dogstar.

Tickets for the ball were $15. Sweepstakes contestants entered for $7.50.

The event raised over $2,500 for Face-to-Face and an anonymous donor matched the amount. Funds raised will go to the organization’s prevention and care programs, which provide HIV testing and direct assistance to Sonoma County residents living with HIV.

“When you break the rules of dress, which define social identifications and roles, you destabilize them and maybe create freedom…it’s an act of rebellion,” Hibbard said.

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