The annual Fashion Strikes show at the Stadium of Light was a dazzling display of fashion meets fund-raising. Entertainments editor Katy Wheeler and photographer Peter Berry were there to capture the highlights.
FOOTBALL stars ditched their usual red and white stripes to don designer threads at this year’s Fashion Strikes show.
Now in its fifth year, the fashion show gives Black Cats the chance to rub shoulders with fans while raising bumper amounts of cash for the club’s charity, the Foundation of Light.
Phil Bardsley, Lee Cattermole, Fraizer Campbell, Connor Wickham, Adam Johnson, Louis Saha and Carlos Cuellar were among the first team players who took to the catwalk to strut their stuff.
Despite the catwalk not being their natural arena, all were out to impress, pulling out moves reminiscent of male model film Zoolander.
Spanish signing Carlos Cuellar said the show was a great chance to meet the people who flock to the stadium on Saturday afternoons to support their team.
“I was a little bit nervous, but this show is for a good reason, it’s to help people,” he said. “The foundation are doing a great job in the community. The players do something with them every Thursday and everybody is so happy to get involved.
“It’s great to meet the supporters, to know what they feel and what they expect. To have the opportunity to meet even one supporter is a great experience as it makes you realise how important the club is to them.”
Speaking about his views on North East style, he said: “It’s freezing up here so you don’t get much opportunity to wear summer clothing. But when I walk around I think people have good style.
“Everything is new to me here and I didn’t know the city when I came, but I’m so happy to be at the club and to meet the fans. People get so involved in the club here, that has stood out for me. To see them follow you all the way to London for a game makes me proud.”
The players were joined on the catwalk by professional models who showcased the latest fashions from House of Fraser in the James Bond-themed event.
Fraizer Campbell is no stranger to the show after modelling in previous events.
He said: “I think this my fourth year doing the show and it’s for a great cause. It’s great to see the players getting our of their comfort zone.
“We had a great result at the weekend but the pressure has been on as before that we weren’t getting the results we wanted, so this was a chance to let our hair down.”
When asked which player has the best catwalk swagger, the striker said: “I’m not sure about that. We get rehearsals for this beforehand but as I’m a veteran at these shows I like to think I’m in the top two.”
More than £40,000 was raised for the charity - including a £25,000 contribution from the players themselves - which uses the power of football to inspire, involve and educate children, families and adults across the North East.
Fraizer regularly gives his time to the foundation to visit schools and meet children who are part of its programmes.
“It’s a brilliant charity,” he said. “Sunderland is one of the few clubs who make their players do a lot for charity. I go to the charity’s classrooms and it’s good to meet the kids. I don’t see myself as anything, but to see those kids’ faces light up at seeing you is a real buzz. If me being there can help them and inspire them, it’s an added bonus.”
For the first time, youngsters who have been helped by the Foundation of Light joined their heroes on the catwalk.
Among them was Max Russell from Seaburn. The 11-year-old Monkwearmouth School pupil dreams of one day playing for his home city team and plays in the club’s academy elite squad, development team and shadow squad.
He said: “The players have been really friendly. I don’t think I have a favourite, I like them all. I love playing football, it’s great being outside instead of stuck indoors.”
Guests at the black tie event enjoyed entertainment from swing singers Kings of Kool as well as X Factor finalist Carolynne Poole.
Lesley Spuhler, SAFC Foundation chief executive, said: “It’s been a fantastic evening, everybody has got into the Bond theme of the event with it being the 50th anniversary of the films.
“It’s great that as well as players and supporters, kids from the programmes have been involved tonight. This is our flagship event and as well as raising funds, it’s a chance for people to have an awful lot of fun.
“Football is often mistaken as a male past time but the majority of people in the room are women who have loved getting dressed up.
“I’m delighted that even the players who didn’t model have come along to support their team-mates. For them to donate £25,000 between them is just fantastic.”