Across the street from the Fairfield Public Library sits a boutique clothing shop, where fashion designer Jennifer Butler pieces together her collections one stitch at a time, all the while marveling at the way authors craft their masterpieces one word at a time.
The library is a favorite place for Butler and her family, including daughters Olivia Foley, 12, and Hazel, 9. Twice a year, Butler supports the library with fashion shows of her spring and fall lines. On Friday, she presented her spring 2013 collection for women, men and girls at the Delamar Hotel's Folly Room. The show featured daywear, raincoats, dresses for every occasion from casual work attire to wedding gowns, and menswear.
It was a hit with the 60 people who attended, many of whom are customers of Butler. A significant number in the audience came to the event wearing her clothing, making the audience a secondary viewing venue.
Judi Cardello of Fairfield said she came mainly to support the library. "The library puts on so many wonderful programs and it's a key institution in our town." She also came to support her daughter Abi's interest in fashion. "She's a budding fashionista and fashion designer," Cardello said.
"I love fashion," said Abi Cardello, 13, not much older than many of the young models who appeared in the show.
Butler served as the emcee of the show, introducing every model and the garment they wore. She described her clothing as "textured, modern, wearable clothing," to which people in the audience added, "sophisticated," "comfortable" and "flattering." "It's all custom so it fits like a glove because it was made for you," said Mary Moses Kinney of Fairfield.
"When something fits you the right way it's comfortable and flattering, and yet you look smashing and stylish," said Linda Lazinger of Fairfield.
Back stage before the show, veterinarian Grace Park traded in her stethoscope for needle and thread. "I cut models out of dresses if they get stuck, I hem things and I make minor alterations on dresses minutes before they go on stage, if necessary," Park said.
When the formal runway show was over, Butler brought racks of her clothing into the Folly room where people were able to feel the textures of the fabrics and examine the quality of the workmanship.
"This woman's an artist. You can see how she puts materials together and thinks about how people live. It's like moving sculpture," said Town Librarian Karen Ronald. She said Butler's clothing is beautiful and functional.
"It's high-minded fashion," said Erica Green, a member of the board of the Friends of the Fairfield Public Library. "It's art in motion," she said.
Sarah Levy of Fairfield said she wore Jennifer Butler clothing "head to toe" to the event. "I love the fabric and the color and the texture and the way it feels against your skin," Levy said.
"I thought the show was beautiful and I'm already trying to think of places to wear the outfits," said Alexis Sulinski of Derby.
Butler said the pieces in the collection serve as samples in the store, but each garment will be "made to measure" specifically for the person who orders it. She said her fashion show serve to show people how an article of clothing moves and looks on a body form rather than just a dress form or hanger.
Butler concluded the show by talking about the library's "One Book, One Town" community reading initiative, which this year has selected as its theme the novel, "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio. The author will visit Fairfield on March 14 to talk about her New York Times best-selling debut novel.
"It's a wonderful book," Butler said, adding that her daughter Hazel loved it and its positive message to "choose kindness." "Please keep supporting the public library," Butler told the audience.
In the program, Butler said, "I feel very lucky to look out my store window and see (the library) as my neighbors. I hope I can keep doing this (the fashion show fund-raiser) for you until I need a walker to get to the periodical room."
Mary Sorhus, head of children's services at the library, said it's "extremely valuable" to have Butler's support. "It brings in a different crowd of people who may not come to the library every day. It brings recognition to the library," Sorhus said.
For more information, visit Jennifer Butler's shop at 1326 Post Road; visit the website at www.jenniferbutler.com, or call 203-256-5768.