On November 8, 2014 Kissimmee, Florida (part of greater Orlando) was host to a charity benefit most unique in its significance – the fashion and beauty expo “Izuminka.” This gala evening was organized by the non-profit charity Russian-American Community Center of Florida, active in the community in the service of Florida’s Russian-speaking diaspora since 2010.

In its figurative sense in Russian the word “Izuminka” connotes something exotic that radiates special charm, originality, beauty and an indescribable allure.

The fashion expo was this and more, with its enchanting presentation of the collections of fashionable clothes and hairstyles from leading American designers and stylists.

The distinctive feature of this gala event was its cast of more than 80 persons, nearly all of whom are Russian-speaking immigrants from Russia and other CIS countries. The entire cast – from the event organizers to the fashion models, designers, stylists, performance artists and staff – consisted of unpaid volunteers; all proceeds from the “Izuminka” gala were donated to the Russian-American Community Center of Florida for charitable purposes.

Much time and effort and many resources were dedicated to preparations for the expo, which attracted an audience of 357 guests, among whom were many American and Russian celebrities and other luminaries. The evening was a great success!

The expo showcased the magnificent collections of four fashion designers – Evgenia Luzhina-Salazar, Inna Rudenko, Nadia Goodwin and Marisa Kenson – whose clothes were presented by 50 glamorous fashion models.  In the interludes between runway segments the audience enjoyed singing performances by Aleksandra Vargas and Diana Bisnette and dance numbers performed by Alisa Burkina and artists from the Russian Ballet Orlando academy.

The design work of Evgenia Luzhina-Salazar garnered special attention with its skillful use of elements of Russian national costume.

Regarding this segment of the expo, well-known art designer and fashion/style expert Irena Ssans said, “The collection of Evgenia Luzhina-Salazar is really an inspiration for the soul. More than clothes, the majestic images she has created fully reflect essential characteristics of Slavic culture and, of course, first and foremost of Russian culture. Her clothing and accessories are concisely designed within the framework of historical antecedents, and by association they remind us of elements of the culture and traditions of the Russian people. The women’s headdresses “Kokoshnik” from this collection are a wonderful illustration of the exquisite taste and painstaking work of seamstresses.”

The audience’s admiration was also expressed for the work of designers Inna Rudenko, Nadia Goodwin and Marisa Kenson, who presented unique and magnificent collections of women’s fashion clothes during the show. The jewelry collection presented by Millenia Fashion similarly elicited delight and praise.

The audience at “Izuminka” managed not only to see but also to feel the beauty, the majesty and the splendor of the collections presented. All this was possible thanks to the fashion models, who with “bated breath” not only demonstrated the collections but also brought to life for the audience the creative concepts of the designers.

“Izuminka” has stimulated heightened interest in and awareness of the beauty, aesthetics, fashion and style brought to American society by representatives of the Russian-speaking diaspora in the US.

The fashion designers participating in this event are truly talented persons and great professionals. We wish them further creative success: may they share their talents on more and grander stages and continue to enrich our culture, strengthening the ties between people of different backgrounds.

Many thanks go to the event’s participants, organizers and sponsors, thanks to whom the event came off and met with great success.

The Russian-speaking community of Orlando wishes to express its special thanks to the President of the Russian-American Community Center of Florida, Mr. Jef Gray, who personally promoted the idea for hosting such an event and who was directly involved in its organization and development. Additional thanks for their support and help organizing “Izuminka” go to Center activists Elena Koryak and Anna Kiryakova. Many thanks go also to the president of World Model & Talent LLC, Snejanna Dunn, whose company worked with the event’s fashion models. A deep bow and unlimited gratitude go to the hairdressers and stylists of the EuroStyle beauty salon: Roza Farfel, Ekaterina Kutnyak, Sergey Garbar, Evgeniya Ivolga, Rimma Fedorova, Anna Byrnes, Tatyana Sherman and Yevgeniya Kapul. Boundless thanks go also to our many sponsors, without whom it would not have been possible to pull together and put on such a marvelous and luxurious celebration of beauty and fashion. And first and foremost, we wish to express our appreciation and gratitude to Mr. David Siegel, president and CEO of Westgate Resorts, where the event was hosted.

“Izuminka” truly enriched all present with its radiant beauty and positive energy, strengthened the ties between American society and the Russian-speaking diaspora, and attracted great interest to Russian culture and contemporary fashion trends.

It is hoped the “Izuminka” fashion and beauty expo becomes a recognized name in the world of fashion and will continue to be held annually.

Mikhail Farfel