Nothing says Hollywood like a red carpet. And nothing says philanthropy like a bikini runway show. Well, I guess that's not always the case. But at Billabong's second annual Design For Humanity event in Hollywood on June 4th, fashion, art, music, and charity fused into one sold-out party, with all proceeds going to the Surfrider Foundation.
"We wanted to produce a creative and inspiring atmosphere that spoke to our brand but that also became a platform to engage and educate our audience with issues at hand," says Billabong Girls' brand director Candy Harris. "Design For Humanity is unique for our industry in that it is a consumer benefit event that helps put our industry on a national stage outside of our endemic bubble."
Part runway show, part live concert, and part art exhibition, the event could be described as an exceptionally enjoyable information-overload. Beyond the giant iron doors at the entrance of the Avalon Club, outside of which throngs of people lined the sidewalk waiting to get in, the electronic beats of the sound system bound past the live models perched on pedestals in the foyer, and hit incoming club-goers in an inundation of the senses.
The multi-tiered layout of the massive Hollywood nightclub allowed for multiple simultaneous club experiences. On the ground floor, the contingent of cheering fans were front row for the sexy walk-off of celebrity-designed swimsuits, and then took prime dance-positions for electro-pop sensation MGMT and later, DJ Aoki. Above them, members of the more subdued, roped-off "Celebrity Section" sipped drinks from their exclusive locale, taking in all the action. The upper levels were comprised of an enclosed, outdoor porch that housed the photos and artwork of several renowned artisans, a VIP room, multiple bars, and areas were people could lounge on couches, observing the mayhem below.
Before the night was over, the paintings and photos were taken off the wall (probably, in part, to avoid the inevitable disasters that might arise when you combine excessive alcohol consumption and valuable art in one room) and were placed on eBay to generate even more revenue for the cause. "The beauty of Design For Humanity is that there are so many ways to be involved with this event and give back to a great cause," says Harris. "If you couldn’t make the live show, you can still walk away with one of the featured pieces."
After the DJ mixed his last song and the bartenders mixed their last drinks, the 1,500 people in attendance spilled out into the early morning hours, the energized ruckus dispersing onto the mostly-empty streets. And when the biggest complaint heard all night was that a drink was too strong, you'd have to conclude it was a good night.