LYNN – The red carpet will be rolled out in Central Square Saturday night as a bit of glamour hits the downtown scene.
VIA’s World, an event planning/fashion/marketing/art enterprise created and run by Lynn Classical grad Silvia Leary, will take over the Black Box theater and most of the ground floor in the LynnArts building from 6:30 to 11 p.m.
Ivania Nicole, Ms. Massachusetts United States 2016, and Shawna Rose, a contestant on “America’s Next Top Model,” will be among those walking the runway wearing pieces from the VIA Collection.
MoneyMav, Lynn’s DJ Cisco and JAM’N 94.5 radio personality, will provide the music. Food (Asian cuisine) will be provided by Boston’s Rogue, which also owns Oye’s Restaurant in Saugus. Silvia’s paintings will be on view in the gallery before the fashion show begins at 9 p.m.
A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Lynn Museum/Lynn Arts.
“I’ve been asked why I’m not holding this in Boston,” said Leary, who reinvented herself as Silvia VIA — a play on her first name and her belief that every creative person is a Very Important Artist. “I want to do it where my studio is, in my city. I’m very happy to be working here in downtown Lynn. I am blessed, and I want to give back to the community.”
Silvia was living in an orphanage in Guatemala when, at age 7, she was adopted by Ron Leary, who coached sports at St. Mary’s, Bishop Fenwick and other area high schools, and his wife Claire, of Lynn.
Silvia said she lived in Curwin Circle subsidized housing when she was a young single mother and is a survivor of domestic violence. Her daughter, Chanelle Camah, now 18 and a college freshman in Florida, is featured in many of her vibrant paintings, including stunning artwork that focuses on the 13th Amendment. That painting will be among those on display tonight.
Silvia founded One Way Treatment Inc., a nonprofit committed to educating women and girls and preventing abuse. She stepped back from that organization to start a fashion, lifestyle, special events company that has evolved into VIA’s World. Her clients have included former President Barack Obama and various musicians, as well as Celtics, Patriots and Revolution players. A strong social media following has helped fuel her company’s growth.
Silvia’s break came when Yayo the Drummer, Lil Wayne’s one-man-band, fell in love with one of her custom day-glo jean jackets and asked her to make him one. He wore it to a club, and the paparazzi went gaga.
“All this fashion design started in my mother’s house, in Salem, where I’ve lived with my mom since my dad died,” said Silvia. “She was always saying, ‘Oh, the mess. Oh, the mess. I’m supportive but, honey, the mess.'”
She laughed. “I’ve always been eccentric. I’ve always done the things I want to do. I was a misfit and I wasn’t the best student. I was kicked out of St. Mary’s (…) Let’s just say I was not very good at wearing those V-neck sweaters. I had my own style.
“But everything came together at Lynn Classical. I met kids of all nationalities with all kinds of interests. The principal, Mr. (Nick) Kostan, insisted we change seats at lunch and get to know new students all the time. I loved it there.”
Via’s World Fashion and Painting red carpet event, tonight, at LynnArts, 25 Exchange St. VIP reception: $50, includes a free drink, food, one pair of VIA socks, and a copy of a Silvia Via painting. Regular admission: $25. Gallery viewing from 6:30-8:45 p.m. Fashion show from 9-11 p.m. Strict dress code required. For more info: www.viasworld.com. To purchase a ticket from Eventbrite click here.