Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


‘Pure Fashion’ Spurs Rousing Revolution Of Modesty

By ERIKA ANDERSON, Staff Writer | Published May 25, 2006

A revolution isn’t always started by a bunch of angry rebels.

Sometimes it’s instigated by a gaggle of girls in pretty dresses.

At the seventh annual Pure Fashion show, held April 30 at the Georgia World Congress Center, girls of all ages—mothers and daughters, grandmothers, sisters—and a few dads and brothers, joined together to celebrate modesty and style.

The show featured internationally known talent, including Grammy Award-winning songwriter and producer David Foster, who played the piano as singer Nita Whitaker performed, and Grammy Award-winning Christian artist Rebecca St. James.

Russ Spencer, anchor of Fox-5 News, served as the co-host for the show, along with Brenda Sharman, national director of the Pure Fashion program.

The show was held in the Thomas Murphy Ballroom, a massive space that seated over 2,300 attendees to the show. Last year’s show, held at the Cobb Galleria, drew 1,300.

The stage and runway was awash in pastel pinks and blues, with Pure Fashion’s signature butterflies projected onto the stage curtains.

Whitaker began the event with a rousing version of “God Bless America,” arranged by Foster, and Sharman gave a preview of what was about to happen.

“I hope you realize the extraordinary event that’s about to unfold,” she said.

Pure Fashion began seven years ago when a group of Catholic mothers, disappointed by the clothing choices offered to young people, began discussing ways to change the culture, “one outfit at a time.” Today, Pure Fashion has grown to include programs across the country, proving to teenagers that they can be modest in their clothing while still being stylish and fun.

At the fashion show, Sharman, herself a former Miss Georgia USA and professional model, introduced the 70 young models, who emerged onto the runway, wearing black and white, while Martina McBride’s song “This One’s for the Girls” blasted from the speakers and the crowd cheered loudly.

After lunch and entertainment by the performers, including Whitaker, who reminded the girls in attendance that “it’s all about knowing you are a daughter of God, and if you walk in that light, everything else will be very clear,” the fashion show began.

Little girls immediately swarmed the sides of the runway, anxiously awaiting the start of the fashion show, narrated by Sharman. Clothing from many stores, including Saint Tropez, Old Navy, Belk, Coldwater Creek, Talbots and J. Jill were featured in the show.

A silent auction was also held at the show to raise money for the Pure Fashion program.

At the end of the high energy show, dozens of little girls, many of whom dream of being future Pure Fashion models, got up on the runway and practiced their walk.

Models who participate in Pure Fashion are involved in a formation program that lasts seven months and leads up to the show. Offered for girls of all faiths in grades eight-12, the program gives girls the opportunity for training in everything from runway walking to hair and make-up lessons, to public speaking and social etiquette. The models are “taught the foundational skills of becoming confident, competent leaders in their schools and communities.”

“Many of the girls have really grown in their self confidence and just being solid in who they are and what they believe,” Sharman said of the models. “They know that they are models who represent our Church and they need to dress and act and live in accordance with our Catholic faith.”

Debra Coheley, whose daughter, Lauren, is a model, said that she has enjoyed the Pure Fashion experience immensely.

“I think it’s given her a really good perspective of who she is in the world,” she said. “She really looked great up there.”

Michelle Romano is the mother of girls and said that she is excited about this new movement toward modesty.

“It gives me chills to see how much (Pure Fashion) has grown and to see God’s anointing on everything,” she said. “Those models represent true beauty, and it gives my girls role models and someone to look up to.”

Though Sharman is the mother of two young boys, she feels that Pure Fashion is a calling for her.

“God just had me destined for this,” she said.

Sharman is proud of all Pure Fashion has accomplished but remains humble about her own role in its success.

“God’s project has just grown to be so enormous because of these dedicated, prayerful, hardworking mothers,” she said. “When some of my other professional model friends came in and saw Pure Fashion, they were just amazed. The Pure Fashion show just truly blows away all other fashion shows in the South, in terms of production quality and attendance. It’s just a blessing.”

She’s been disheartened by the choices in clothing offered to young girls, especially within the last few years.

“It just makes me cringe. We’ve crossed the line somewhere from beauty being about elegance to this racy standard. It’s a whole new low,” she said, adding that this is a chance for all Christians to come together.

“This is something that is not about doctrinal differences. Modesty is common ground for women and mothers. We have got to recognize that we need to call together the whole Christian community,” she said. “This is something that is going to require all of us to stand up against the ‘culture of skin’ and say ‘enough already.’”


For more information about Pure Fashion, visit More photos of the event are available at