Designs by Kristin Robbins at 2011 Couture for a Cause
  • Photo by Chris Florio, courtesy Activate Good
  • Designs by Kristin Robbins at 2011 Couture for a Cause

I first encountered Amber Smith five or six years ago, not long after she started the nonprofit organization called ME-3 that, with a new name, has grown up to be the very excellent group called Activate Good. I wrote about Smith two years ago in the Indy when we gave her a 2010 Citizen Award. She and her organization continue to merit her good citizenship medal. Activate Good’s mission is to promote volunteerism, recruit people to be volunteers and help worthy nonprofits find volunteer help when they need it. The ultimate do-gooders.

Activate Good’s big fundraising event is the annual Couture for a Cause, which is coming around for its 4th run Saturday night at Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh. It’s a fashion show and a show to promote 20 other nonprofits—groups helped by Activate Good.

2011 Couture:a Karen Huskins design

Every year before, I’ve tried to go and something got in the way. This year, Pam and I are going. If you’ll indulge a plug, tickets are $25 online for general admission ($30 at the door), and $75 for VIP tickets. WRAL Out and About dubbed Couture for a Cause “the hottest local fashion show,” so that’s good.

I’m looking forward to it because:

* It has nothing to do with elections or politics.

* They auction off the designs at the end (in addition to a silent auction for donated stuff), which may help with holiday shopping. Can’t hurt, anyway.

* I hear it’s fun.

* Cupcakes by Ruby Cakes.


Really, if you’re looking for a way to de-stress after the elections and before the No. 1 stressor in most people’s lives, which is the holidays, give Couture a try.

I got a briefing from Smith and Ann Clinton, an Activate Good board member who says she’s always been a volunteer nut and who works by day as a Saks Fifth Avenue executive — so she’s perfect to be this year’s Couture chair:

* Doors open at Marbles at 7:30, allowing time for socializing, a drink (cash bar), hors d’oeuvres and a cruise through the silent auction. Or, if you spring for a VIP ticket, it comes with a special lounge, “VIP cuisine,” a second cash bar and a goodie bag from the sponsors.

* The food is from Zinda, a new New Asian restaurant on Fayetteville Street, which is also hosting an after-party.

* The fashion show kicks off at 8:15, in two parts. Part one is “ready to wear” designs. Part two is “art to wear” — which is a little more … or maybe a lot more ….

* Each part will end with an auction of what’s just come down the runway.

* Three judges select the winning designs and give cash prizes, aided by audience voting — via texts on your phone.

And all night, the designers will “show” the nonprofits as well as their own couture, using their artistry to mix the one with the other. Take a drink every time you hear the word inspiring. (I said that, they didn’t.)

Plug over. Maybe I’ll see you there.