The Power of Style

by Amanda Bedgood

Fearless was the hashtag of the day for a group of kids who put on a show no one will forget.

Fashion is about more than the clothes we're wearing. It's very little to do with labels. The oft quoted Rachel Zoe-ism goes: "Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak." And it's true, in a way. But more than style even speaks to who we are (or who we want the world to think of us as at that particular moment), style and fashion are an escape. It's something you'd believe if you were at Espirit de Coeur recently when the kids from Dreams Come True took to the runway.

The group of children each facing a life-threatening illness enjoy a runway show every year (along with their siblings) thanks to the nonprofit whose sole purpose it is to grant wishes for children in Louisiana. This year the fashion show came to Lafayette for the first time, and boutiques like Melodi's, Paperdoll Studio, Vanessa V. and Maven Menswear jumped on board, while be. Salon styled their hair and makeup. It was a magical kind of day. The kind of day it's easy to forget anyone is sick. Or hurting. For just a moment.

It was a Sunday and it poured. Nobody seemed to mind. The naturals like Daniella Latil (in remission from an A.L.L. diagnosis), 9, practiced backstage in the mirror and posed easily at the end of the runway. Others took some coaxing but caught on quickly thanks to pros on hand to guide them - models Shaquana Lewis, Katherine Gordon and Tyler Wilson.

There's something about the royal treatment that makes a kid feel, well, royal. And there's something about a new dress for just about any girl. In the wise words of Gordon as she watched the mini models with hands on hips backstage await the runway: "You put a girl in a cute dress and some lipstick and she just knows what to do." That certainly seemed the case on this Sunday afternoon as they faced a roomful of parents and cameras with no fear.

Fearless was the hashtag of the day. Bright smiles, a pep in their step. As their modeling coaches discussed in jest just how "fierce" they should teach these kids to walk, my mind went to just how fierce these little fighters must be. Just this January little Kylie Cuhon had a liver and kidney transplant. And on Sunday she walked with hands on hips about as fierce as it gets - for an 8-year-old wearing a pink dress with turquoise ruffled skirt, that is.

And while the joy in the room emanated from the faces of those children, the real joy was found easily in the eyes of their parents.

Poised with cameras, beaming, grown and fully aware of how precious these moments truly must be. And how very much moments like these come and go so quickly they need neither words nor photographs to document them. They are the sort of snapshots the mind's eye takes and keeps. A way to remember there are moments of joy without having to speak.