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Fort Lauderdale Fashion Week hosts Impact Awards Show and Gala

Fort Lauderdale Fashion Week highlights barrier-breaking fashionistas
Fort Lauderdale Fashion Week highlights barrier-breaking fashionistas 02:53

MIAMI - South Florida goes global as fashion takes center stage this week in Fort Lauderdale. 

It's all part of Fort Lauderdale's premier fashion event, Fort Lauderdale Fashion Week "FLLFW.' 

The environment of FLL Fashion Week is electric, focused on inclusive fashion, body positivity and sophisticated glamour.  In its 10th year, FLL Fashion Week has grown to become the second-largest fashion week in the state of Florida next to Miami Fashion Week. 

For the first time this year, Fort Lauderdale Fashion Week will host an Impact Awards Show and Gala honoring South Florida designers and artists who break barriers in the industry. CBS News Miami's Najahe Sherman is the event emcee. 

Florentina West is the founder and CEO of FLL Fashion Week. Originally from West Africa, she told CBS News Miami she founded the fashion week in 2015 after her own experiences as a model in Miami's fashion scene left her wanting a more inclusive environment.

"That's kind of what brought me into bringing a platform where we can have even a 5 feet tall model, an oversized model, a 60-year-old model," said Florentina West, founder of FLL Fashion Week. 

The week includes several runway shows and events. Fashion designer Tina Vaida created many of the looks the models will be wearing.

"I'm happy to work with diversity. With different people, different body shapes, just to bring out the beauty in everybody," said Tina Vaida, CEO and founder of VAIDA Luxury Fashion.

This will be Kelli Parce's first time in a Fashion Week runway show. She says typically in the fashion industry you see people who are tall and slender, but she says beauty comes in many different forms. Parce is an athlete and has created a large social media following for her tips and demonstrations that help her followers through strength training.  

"I find beauty in strength. Strength can't be bought, it's earned, and you pay that price every day in the gym for your consistency with your diet, your routine and all those things so I think it shows a lot about your character as an individual to have strength," said Kelli Parce, RN, BSN. 

This will also be Brandon Chaner's first runway show.  At the age of 5 he was diagnosed with a muscle disorder called dystonia. He told CBS News Miami he hopes to inspire others to never let anything hold you back. Chaner uses a wheelchair and was beaming with confidence as he spoke about his FLL Fashion Week runway show debut. He wasn't ready to reveal his fashion selection for the big night just yet. 

"It's going to be a surprise. Hahahaha it's going to be a showstopper," said Chaner. 

Editor and Chief of Fort Lauderdale Fashion Week Magazine Lisa Ray says Florentina West is changing the game in the fashion industry.

"Florentina, as humble and shy as she is, is a force to be reckoned with. She is the CEO of Fort Lauderdale Fashion Week and the brainchild behind the magazine. She is also the owner of Versa Luxe which is a line of women's bathing suits and loungewear that is carried throughout Europe. She is also the one who started swim week here in South Florida," said Ray. 

Proceeds from FLL Fashion Week will benefit the JEWELS Foundation, a local non-profit that helps at-risk youth through mentorship programs.

Next, West says she will host FLL Kids Fashion Weekend, a global event in Fort Lauderdale featuring runway shows and performances for children ages 6 to 15 years old and their parents. She says the mission is to create an event where kids can learn the importance of self-expression, diversity, acceptance and giving back to their communities.  

Barrier-breaking fashionistas honored at Fort Lauderdale Fashion Week 00:55

Click here for more information about Fort Lauderdale Fashion Week, other inclusive fashion events and the upcoming FLL Kids Fashion Weekend.

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