Sugary fashions decorate the runway of Sweet Charity Fashion Show

The appropriately brunette Chocorella. Photography by Hilary Rocks

The Heart of America Foundation hosted its eighth annual Sweet Charity Gala at the swanky Mandarin Oriental hotel. This sugary benefit featured dozens of local area chefs, who served up everything from candied confections to fresh scallops and citrus jicama salad. The fashion show was just icing on the cake, with delectable marzipans and bonbons spangling stylish outfits for both men and women.

Sweet Charity has been named one of Washington’s Top 100 Events by Bizbash, and this seems a fitting award given the spectacular setting. The moment I walked into the benefit, I was transported into a celebrity world: I strutted the red carpet while media outlets took pictures, and I was even gifted with a valuable swag bag. The VIP section was rightfully exclusive, and the privileged few to garner a pass to this restricted section were dressed to the nines. In the main rooms, live models wearing decadent, dessert-inspired designs punctuated the chic, sexy lounge areas created and lit by Syzygy Events, Digital Lightning & PSAV.

The food was, as expected, absolutely divine. Although most tasting stations offered sweet treats like spun-sugar violets atop a buttery cupcake a la the chef june B sweet, others brought delicious savory foods to cleanse the palette and offer a counterpoint to the mounds of chocolate, white chocolate, and exotic fruit delicacies. Being a recent transplant from the South, the beef brisket on biscuit immediately caught my eye. These delicious, smoky sliders went fast—when I came back an hour later for another, they had already run out. I quickly moved to the seafood stations; being from the inland state of Tennessee, fresh seafood was hard to find. Not so at Sweet Charity, however, where stations like Black’s Bar and Kitchen and Bobby Van’s Grill served up scallops, black cod, and shrimp in presentations to rival even the most exquisite fondant wedding cakes.



The desserts were interesting, beautiful, and phenomenal. A gelato station was nestled amidst the rows of artistic chocolates like those by Artisan Confections, which offered immaculately intricate chocolates like the hand-painted apricot-tea truffle. Meanwhile, Savagely Good Fudge had a fabulous selection of more rustic chocolates—the Cherry Blossom Fudge featured the colors and flavors that would go perfectly for a holiday spread.

The Boxwood Winery served up spicy and bold Bordeaux-like wines, while Capitol City Brewing Company had both a light and dark beer on tap. Although the lighter beer was more refreshing and better suited to my rather feminine beer tastes, the porter was creamy and smooth, a perfect pairing with semi-sweet and white chocolates that lined the ballroom’s walls.

The fashion show was exhilarating, with models strutting the catwalk in costumes and gowns adorned with extravagant props like a sugar-spun sword of Excalibur and Cleopatra’s murderous white choclate asp. Inspirations for runway designs were quite diverse: there was a 1920’s flapper with white chocolate pearl fringe, a savage Adam and Eve with chocolate powder “dirt,” a sugar plum fairy with sugar-blown bulbs, and chocolate-wigged Heidi in treacherous 6-inch platform sandals. Most impressive was the Queen of Hearts, who displayed a full skirt and deck of pastiage cards that dotted her gown. The fashion show featured all shapes from full skirts to form-fitted (and sugar-bejeweled) sheaths. See the slideshow below for an array of marvelous designs and impressive candy creations.

The attendees were stylish fashionistas and young professionals, while high-profile guests like Miss District of Columbia and local news anchors populated the VIP section. Although I was reporting for fashion, the arts of food and fashion seemed to blend together in one delicious package at this fabulous Sweet Charity event.

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