Local designer’s fashion show helps low-income women

Halifax designer Lisa Drader-Murphy raises awareness for an international charity.

By Megan Marrelli-Dill

Lisa Drader-Murphy owns the clothing store Turbine, located on Lower Water St. (Megan Marrelli-Dill photo)

Halifax designer Lisa Drader-Murphy is raising awareness for an international charity. She’s putting on a fashion show at the Westin Nova Scotia Hotel on April 1, calling it the Tea Party.

Part of the proceeds will go toward Dress for Success, an organization that started in New York City in the 1990s. It gives professional outfits to women who are looking for a job, but can’t afford office attire.

“It’s about empowering women,” says Drader-Murphy. “We’ve supported a lot of charities that take women out of harmful situations. But this is the next step, getting their feet back on the ground, caring for their children. I think that’s really important.”

Brenda Saunders-Todd is the board president of Dress for Success and is also the chair of the fashion show. She says, “[Drader-Murphy] donates all of her time; she provides everything that’s required. We used to do a fashion show anyways for awareness, but when we realized this opportunity to partner, it only made sense. What she’s giving back to this organization is more than I can say, we’re so grateful.“

Along with dressing people up, Dress for Success also has a Professional Women’s Group and a Career Centre.

“Expect to see lots of color, we have some beautiful, colorful silks and pastels, lots of knits and some new handbags as well. I’m loving the tote this season, it’s practical but luxurious,” says Lisa Drader-Murphy.

But it’s best known for its “interview suitings.” Women get lined up with job interviews through groups like Women’s Employment Outreach. Then, they come in to Dress for Success for an interview suiting. They get pantyhose, shoes, jewelry, a briefcase, an overcoat , all free of charge.

Women can come in for a second outfit once they get a job.

“People in the community donate the clothing,” says Saunders-Todd, “We have some very generous business people, law firms in downtown Halifax. But primarily it’s women who are looking to clean out their closets.”

Saunders-Todd expects to see 500 women at the Tea Party this year. “Everybody from the corporate world, entrepreneurs, retired women, mothers, students,” she says.

The fashion show will also have a silent auction, psychic readings and a marketplace where entrepreneurs can showcase their businesses.

“That’s why women absolutely love the event,” says Saunders-Todd. “There’s so much to it.”

Tickets to the Tea Party are $50.

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Lisa Drader-Murphy’s Turbine Fund, est. 2003

“The mandate is to empower women through education and support. For example we’ve been able to donate a total of $115,000 to women’s charities,” she says.