Diane Blake strode to the edge of the runway, flashed a peace sign that went fittingly with her black peace-sign bedazzled top and matching jeans, and did a spin to display her camera-shaped bag to the hoots and applause from the audience.
The Longboat Key Garden Club’s Taste of the Keys Fashion Show was back.
Blake was one of 12 Longboat Key residents, Garden Club members or business leaders who modeled fashions ranging from resort chic to evening elegance at the 11th annual Taste of the Keys fashion show the evening of April 7 at the Longboat Key Club’s Harbourside dining room.
Prior to the show, the approximately 250 guests in attendance sampled bites from about 10 local restaurants for the event.
Euphemia Haye’s Ray Arpke began the show asking for a round of applause for those restaurants, which donated the food for the evening. But he also wanted to make sure they received recognition for the hard times they’ve survived and to make sure folks still know they're struggling and need support and understanding.
“It has been an interesting couple of years for these restaurants, as you can imagine," he said. "We went without customers for a couple of months, … but now we have to go without employees."
As the models made their way down the runway and around the room, they garnered applause and the occasional “oohs” as they displayed the detailing on their clutch or the colorful lining of their blazers. The fashions were provided by Foxy Lady and Marcello Sport, both with long histories on St. Armands Circle.
The event is the primary fundraiser for the Garden Club, which uses the proceeds for its scholarships, grants and beautification projects on the Key.
One of the programs the Garden Club makes possible is paying for Key workers' children to attend summer camps that they otherwise wouldn't be able to afford. Arpke noted before the fashion show that several of his employees had received scholarships from the Garden Club throughout the years as well.
Although the event was about 100 people smaller than the last time it was held, in January 2020, co-chair Lyn Haycock said the group was hopeful it would make its goal of raising at least $20,000, as it had in previous years.
“We are very happy with the turnout,” she said. “Especially after COVID.”