Date: May 17, 2007
Marketer: Wish-Bone Salad Dressing and M. Booth & Associates
Venue: Vanderbilt Hall, Grand Central Terminal
Lettuce-trimmed ball gowns, walnut necklaces and fruity bikinis? Yes, you read that right. Salad dressing giant Wish-Bone hosted its second-annual summer salad fashion show in Grand Central's Vanderbilt Hall.
For "Puttin' on the Spritz," Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Terminal was converted into a fashion runway. But it was the backstage theatrics that could make you forget that this event was for a Unilever salad dressing brand.
Being a newbie to the fashion-show scene, I was transfixed, watching as models ran from makeup to hair to wardrobe and back again, dashing by a variety of salad-dressing spritzers displayed on a table to use as runway accessories. Large crates and boxes of produce were scattered around the backstage area while people busily attached lemons and limes to models' skirts and tops.
Chris March, fashion director for this and last year's show, broke a sweat as he adjusted a baguette accent atop a model's beret. Although the bread balancing act looked tough, Mr. March revealed that this wasn't the biggest challenge he had all day.
"The potato salad dress," Mr. March said, grabbing another baby eggplant from a crate. "She's wearing a burlap sack and a potato skirt. She has 20 pounds of potatoes on her waist."
The piece de resistance, however, was the show's ending piece, designed by fashion icon duo Heatherette (designers Richie Rich and Traver Rains) -- an ambrosia-salad wedding dress, complete with an array of pineapples, mangoes, oranges and kiwis and a few Heatherette touches of glitter, tulle and feathers. This ensemble was for the "prom princess buffet on the go."
"Project Runway" mentor Tim Gunn was the emcee, clad in classic tuxedo, and since I'm a huge fan of the Bravo show myself, I found myself tearing up when I saw him. Then again, that could've been the scent emitting from the nearby onion Bermuda shorts.
"They're really phenomenal," Mr. Gunn said. "The fruit and vegetables are all perishable. I don't know how they stay looking good."
Wish-Bone's attempt at fusing fashion with fresh produce in a grand event such as this one presents event marketing at its most creative. "We really wanted to show our customers through media that we're modernizing the brand, that we're innovative in the brand," said Wish-Bone brand manager Franck Valas.
Using the concept "Express your salad style," the show incorporated the idea of consumer participation. Wish-Bone asked its consumers to create recipes conveying their salad style. The two winning recipes -- "Red Hot Mama Salad" and "Cucumber and Pear Carpaccio Salad" -- inspired two original dresses from costume designer Chris March that were presented at the show. Who would've thought wearing a grill with salmon on your head would look hot?
Aside from actually promoting the spritzer dressing itself, the event stood as a benefit as well. Wish-Bone plans to make a donation to America's Second Harvest, the nation's largest charitable hunger-relief organization.
I don't think I'll be donning a veggie design anytime soon, but I do know what my next meal will be.
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