Fashion for Freedom

Local fashion label Cotton and Silk called attention to Human Trafficking Awareness Month with a benefit show at Ingenue Avenue Thursday. Read the story at

Local fashion designer Carla Coultas of Cotton and Silk called attention to Human Trafficking Awareness Month with a benefit show at Ingenue Avenue on Saturday. Proceeds from the show went to Project Rescue, a national organization that works to eliminate human trafficking in India.

About 60 guests gathered around the makeshift catwalk, a turquoise runway constructed out of duct tape that ran from a curtain in the back of Ingenue Avenue to the front window of the downtown boutique.

Coultas said she spent four months on the final collection, which was comprised of 24 pieces, all made by Coultas.

“I’ve been sewing since I was 4,” she said. “And then I would make stuff for myself when I was a kid.”

When the lights went down at about 6:15 p.m., 16 models moved down the runway, one after another, in sync to the music. Once they reached the small “x” at the tip of the catwalk, each model hit her pose.

Kira Parse, 25, wore two different looks in the show, both including tanks and high-waisted shorts.

The Gainesville resident said she normally prefers to wear jeans and a T-shirt because it’s hard for her to find tight clothes that complement her body type.

But Coultas’ form-fitting clothes fit great, she said.

“And I wouldn’t give a compliment unless I meant it,” Parse added.

Coultas said Project Rescue was her inspiration behind the collection. She first heard of the organization from her church, and the idea to combine her love of fashion with giving to Project Rescue began five months ago.

“The charity was a lot of my influence,” Coultas said. “I was just thinking independently of women’s rights, and just a very striking collection is what I wanted to make.”

Fifty percent of the $7 tickets went directly to Project Rescue, as well as 50 percent of the silent auction donations. On Monday afternoon, Coultas said the event raised $324 for Project Rescue.

When the show was over, guests headed next door to Sarkara Sweets for free cupcakes and Mexican food provided by Boca Fiesta.

Trisha Lueck, a 20-year-old UF industrial and systems engineering junior, attended the show because she wanted to help Project Rescue.

“My favorite part of the event was donating to such a great cause and ending the evening with cupcakes,” Lueck said.

Now that Coultas’ first Fashion For Freedom show is finished, the designer is debating whether or not to make the fashion show an annual or biannual event.

But fans of Cotton and Silk can rest assured knowing another show is on its way.

“I will definitely do it again,” Coultas said.