VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Behind the laughter and brightly-colored clothes, the message behind the fashion showcase, "A New Beginning," was a serious one.
As guests explored the venue, local organizations and nonprofits came together to fight against human trafficking.
Advocates handed out pamphlets and shared stories of abuse that they have seen in Hampton Roads.
"They can have a good time tonight, but they can learn some practical things and some things they can do and ways they can get involved and make a difference," said Lori McKenna, co-founder of the Virginia Beach Justice Initiative.
The goal of the Virginia Beach Justice Initiative, Butterfly House and ENJEWEL (Equality and Justice for Every Woman Every Land) is to end human trafficking throughout Coastal Virginia through awareness, prevention and intervention.
As guests came through the door to check out the latest fashion, they were greeted by advocates promoting change and collecting donations.
"We need to be a bigger voice than the voice trying to destroy these lives," said Butterfly House President Char Miller.
Proceeds from the event will go directly to the nonprofits in an effort to benefit human trafficking victims. The money will go towards resources like job training and education, medical services and transportation.
"Sometimes it takes a happy environment to bring people in to let them know that they have in their hands the ability to change a life," Miller said.
The main event of the evening was world renowned fashion designer, Joseph Aloysius Montelibano. He unveiled his latest collection of eco-friendly and sustainable couture, the Aloysius collection.
Montelibano promoted awareness of the importance and need for eco-friendly fashion. He hopes his line will inspire the community to make more environmentally conscious decisions when buying new clothes.
The night was hosted by the Philippine-American Chamber of Commerce.