For over two decades the fashion community has been adversely affected by HIV/AIDS. Many designers, stylists, and fashion industry professionals have fallen prey to this worldwide pandemic – Halston, Patrick Kelly, and Perry Ellis, just to name a few. And though there have been incredible advances in treatment and prevention, this scourge still continues. One of the populations largely overlooked in this pandemic are those homeless individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS.
Founded in 1990, Housing Works provides health and wellness and life supportive services to indigent people living in New York City and beyond. Through their many thrift shops, Housing Works funnels monies into the various support services provided by their clinics. And through donations and fundraisers, the fashion community has been a longtime supporter of Housing Works and its many endeavors.
On March 22, Housing Works celebrated the opening of its tenth thrift store in Hell’s Kitchen with a VIP Gala party hosted by fashion and lifestyle guru, Derek Warburton. Derek Warburton, known to many viewers as the GBFF (Gay Best Friend Forever) on the popular reality show, Real Housewives of New York, has been a fashion director for various high-end lifestyle publications, the guest host of Britain’s Fashion Avenue and Big Boutique on the Style Network, and a fashion trend expert for Fox News.
This red carpet event attended by a wide variety of fashion industry glitterati and professionals also played host to Derek Warburton’s documentary, Derek Loves Housing Works, that takes an inspiring look inside the medical facilities of the 20-year-old grass roots HIV/AIDS organization and how the organization’s community interaction goes beyond its many NYC–based thrift and bookstores.
As Executive Board Member Joseph Mangone so aptly stated, “We wanted to find a way to connect the thrift shops with the clinics. I was able to get Derek Warburton to do a documentary in which he visited the thrift shops, but also went to the clinics where he documented the medical support that we do for homeless patients living with HIV.”
In spite of an economic recession and tight pocketbooks, Housing Works soldiers on. And the fashion community continues to demonstrate that their raison d’etre extends beyond pretty clothes and accessories. In bountiful times or times of draught, the fashion community understands that generosity and caring for others is the highest calling.
Photos courtesy of Mary Blanco.