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Couture for a Cause

Take one look at local fashion designer Adrianne Russin's revamped vintage threads and you'll have no question where her inspiration comes from. "Rock 'n' roll and funk is my answer to everything," she admits. The formula has been working. She's created styles for tons of freelance clients, including current American Idol contestant Nadia Turner.

According to Mary Ptak, owner of local boutique Jezebel, the store can't keep Russin's deconstructed, rock-inspired shirts and skirts on the shelves. Says Ptak: "People come in every week to see what's new from her." So when Ptak first came up with the idea of holding a fashion show to benefit the National Alzheimer's Association of America, it was easy to decide whose gear would be on the catwalk. And like that, Rock the Runway was born.

Teresa Mezzina is another Jezebel staple whose fashions will make their stage debut. Unlike Russin's torn-down funky gear, Mezzina's look is sexy, sleek, and elegant. Another hot seller, Mezzina was discovered at the store while wearing a shirt she'd designed. Now her original outfits are flying off the racks as fast as Russin's. "Of our local designers, they're definitely the biggest sellers," Ptak says.

Born in Southern Italy, Mezzina has created an 18-piece collection that reflects her shoreside upbringing, with cool colors, sea-shell appointments, and flowing fabrics. "The theme of the collection is the beach at night: sunset to sunrise," Mezzina says. "It's for the girl who parties all night long."

From the ground up, the show has been a labor of love, with Jezebel and the designers getting plenty of helping hands. Local businesses have donated goods, a makeup artist has donated her time, and frequent Jezebel customers -- from high school students to young women in the Art Institute's fashion design program -- are modeling for the show. "Everyone has been throwing in their own jive," Russin says.

Considering the scope of the cause, it's no wonder everyone has been so helpful. A recent Gallup poll found that one in ten Americans had a family member with Alzheimer's disease, a progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys the memory.

Ptak's own experiences coping with a family member's disease is the driving force behind the show. "We want the show to be fun, but we want people to recognize that Alzheimer's research is an important cause," Ptak says. "Everyone is excited about the show, but more then anything, we're all just excited to give back."

Along with the runway show, the band the Modern Cons will rock outside, while inside, DJ Grand Theft Otto will be on the ones and twos with old funk and soul. Appetizers will be provided by Whole Foods Market and local, independently owned restaurants. Guests will also have the opportunity to participate in a silent auction, with prizes ranging from tattoo sessions and skateboards to weekend luxurious hotel stays.

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Paul A. Leone

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