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'Salute the Runway' kicks off New York Fashion Week

Model and actress Lauren Hutton (center) poses with the Salute The Runway Models backstage at Salute The Runway Sponsored By Little Black Dress Wines & Fatigues To Fabulous during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2015 at The Pavilion at Lincoln Center.
Model and actress Lauren Hutton (center) poses with the Salute The Runway Models backstage at Salute The Runway Sponsored By Little Black Dress Wines & Fatigues To Fabulous during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2015 at The Pavilion at Lincoln Center.Photo by Andrew H. Walker

Fatigues to Fabulous wonderfully kicked off this 2014 New York Fashion Week season with "Salute the Runway" on Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, with many thanks to sponsors Little Black Dress Wines and Shout, where some very special women graced the fashion stage. As a thank you to our servicewomen of America, founder of Fatigues to Fabulous, Ronnie Denn expressed, “the idea one day just seeped into my head, totally by accident after reading an article written by a friend of mine about women returning from serving in the military and how difficult it was for them to transition back into civilian lifestyle." Now, two years later, through partnerships and collaborations with nonprofit organizations like the Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR), Grace After Fire, and many others, she has been able to take the show to one of the most notable stages of fashion, Lincoln Center for New York Fashion Week 2014.

In what was originally a campaign initiative directed toward providing the nation’s many servicewomen with warranted recognition and support, “Salute the Runway” was what became as another form of appreciation for celebrating the achievements of these great women. After its launch in June 2014, a number of fashion show events were held on military installations in Texas and Washington, where servicewomen were able to receive advice from professional models, makeup artists and exemplary American designers like DKNY, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and more on being appropriately dressed for any occasion. Combat boots and fatigue being their norm, the experience of getting dolled up and wearing heels down a runway was a for sure difference to their everyday.

Representing all the struggles that come with being a woman in the military, each of the 15 servicewomen in Wednesday’s Lincoln Center show received an infectious demonstration of gratitude for all their hard work and dedication to our nation as they took their place on the runway. “Salute the Runway” campaign spokesperson Leslie Nicole Smith, a retired Army Captain, an amputee who is also now legally blind following her deployment told us, “There is so much meaning and inspiration behind each woman who walks out representing their service, their sacrifice, their branch. It is so empowering, you walk away with such a confidence and inner strength that you can do anything.” And just as she explained the experience to be for her and the other servicewomen who have joined her in the experience, I, as an onlooker was instantaneously ignited and so happy to take part as well.

For more information on F2F and “Salute the Runway” check out the newly launched app and event co-sponsor Shout created, which is free to download on iTunes and Google Play. Please visit this website for more information and finding out other ways to support our servicewomen further for all their courageous efforts and tremendous amounts of selflessness expressed everyday on the front lines.

Sade Graham contributed reporting.