When it comes to putting on a fashion show, no one in Saratoga does it better than Natalie Sillery, a Rensselaer native who spent years in Boston, Atlanta and New York City before moving back to the Capital Region to care for her aging parents. It was then that she opened Saratoga Trunk, a womenswear store currently in its 28th year in business that carries elegant dresses, accessories and, yes, hats. “Let’s go back,” Sillery said on a recent Friday afternoon. “It was a day in 1995. There were women horse owners. They’d come in, they’d buy nine hats. I’d take the hats out to the chauffeured car. They’d buy three outfits: one for the morning, one for the winner’s circle, and one for later when they went out to dinner at The Wishing Well. People dressed. It was a field day.”
It was in that era that Sillery began showcasing her wares—looks from Kay Unger, Nicole Miller and Don O’Neill of Theia Couture—in fashion shows around the Capital Region, most notably, of course, at Saratoga Race Course. She put on 22 track-side shows between 1998-2019 to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities, featuring “real” women—not necessarily models—from the local community.
After two years off from COVID, though, a new idea emerged: a fashion show to benefit not one but two charities doing amazing work right here in Saratoga Springs. The charities? Living Resources, an Albany-based nonprofit that provides supportive services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities; and Building on Love, an organization based in Cohoes that helps families facing life-altering medical conditions by way of financial support with essential living expenses such as mortgage and car payments. “These are two nonprofits that I think the world of,” says Sillery, who points out that many of the individuals and families served by the organizations live in Saratoga. “I just love them both and think they’re worthy of exposure.”
So, in a first-of-its-kind fashion show fundraiser to benefit two charities with disparate missions, Sillery, Living Resources and Building on Love will present “A Tribute to Transforming Lives: A Day at the 1863 Club” on Sunday, August 21 at 11am. “It’s going to be a great day,” Sillery says of the show that will feature looks from Saratoga Trunk, Lifestyles of Saratoga and Union Hall Supply Co., as well as styles by designer Emily Shalant. “It’s world-class racing and world-class fashion for world-class causes.”