Catholic San Francisco


(Photo courtesy Barbara Kelly)

Design student Sam Howell works on transforming four men’s XXL shirts into a dress.

  Printer Friendly
Fashion show highlights re-created castoffs to fund SVdP programs
April 18th, 2012
By Valerie Schmalz

The velvet dresses didn’t really work for the street people that St. Vincent de Paul Society of San Francisco clothes with donated discards at the society’s Help Desk. And some of the more raggedy donations to the Catholic nonprofit weren’t suitable for client use either.

Then came Sally Rosen’s inspiration. The Help Desk volunteer, herself a seamstress had an idea: What about a fashion show using recreated discards and enlisting the help of the plethora of designers and student designers in the San Francisco Bay Area?

“A lot of designers are struggling to survive on their creativity,” said Rosen, a member of St. Kevin Parish whose husband is a deacon assigned to St. Stephen Parish. “This is a way they can give back by doing what they love.”

Thus began “Discarded to Divine,” a fashion show and auction that enlists home and fashion designers, professionals and students. The complimentary show, which began in 2005, was held April 13 at the De Young Museum as part of its “Friday Nights at the DeYoung” series. Lead singer Emily Jayne from the rock group “Fashion Slave” wore a “Discarded to Divine” creation from 2009. The piece, called “Asianism,” was designed by Bo Choi, then a student at the University of Washington, and inspired by the painting of Japanese kimonos at the deYoung.

The second show, the fundraiser, is April 26 at the San Francisco Design Center Galleria. Tickets are available at for the reception and auction. The finished one-of-a-kind outfits, accessories and pieces of home decor are reclaimed from 50 percent discarded, donated clothing and materials.

Last year the event netted more than $100,000 for St. Vincent de Paul Society of San Francisco’s programs. The event also builds visibility and connections among a community that might not naturally gravitate to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Rosen said.

More than 60 percent of the 110 selected participants are students at the Academy of Art University, the California College of Art, City College of San Francisco, Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, and Apparel Design & Merchandising students at San Francisco State University, St. Vincent de Paul Society organizers said.

“I very much support students doing community engaged scholarship,” said Connie Ulasewicz, associate professor of apparel design and merchandising at SF State. “Part of it is for students to understand ways they can contribute outside of the traditional economy and make a difference.”

The merchandising class staged the De Young show and the designers in the class contributed pieces, Ulasewicz said. This semester her class designed the display windows for Goodwill stores at Van Ness and Market streets and in West Portal, she said. “My belief is that these young people need to understand they are fitting in with the community,” she said. “Studies have shown they will be more engaged citizens if they understand how they fit in.”





From April 20, 2012 issue of Catholic San Francisco.


In an April 20 article about the “Discarded to Divine” fundraiser for the St. Vincent de Paul Society of San Francisco, Sally Rosen was incorrectly called a volunteer when she was employed as the society’s Help Desk at the time the gala began. Auction items are at least 50 percent recycled with some using 100 percent discarded items.



  • Vatican Web TV player

Home | About Us | Site Map | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | 415.614.5647 | One Peter Yorke Way, San Francisco, CA 94109 | ©2017 Catholic San Francisco