For the past six years, jewelry designer Kendall Van Bretto has organized the style side of a yearly, all-volunteer show that fuses live performances and fashion to promote Allston businesses and musicians.
“We have an eclectic mix of people [models and musicians] from all walks of life, and that’s what makes the show,” she said.
And, for many, a diverse crowd is also what “makes” Allston – a concept that the ninth annual “Rock the Village Music and Style” show celebrated at Brighton Music Hall on Thursday while simultaneously showcasing local retailers and bands before more than 250 guests, a record turnout for the event.
Devin McPhie has lived in the unique and vibrant Boston neighborhood since he graduated from Boston University 11 years ago.
“I feel like [living here for a while] is the natural migration after college,” the 33-year-old Boston native said, standing along a Brighton Avenue sidewalk outside the music venue before last week’s show. “There are obviously a lot of pros and cons, but one thing I love about Allston is you can pretty much find anything here, from the bars to the restaurants to the mom and pop stores.”
Standing beside McPhie, his friend 30-year-old Caitlin Cunningham agreed and said other reasons she decided to move to the neighborhood about a year-and-a-half ago include the area’s relatively affordable housing and access to public transportation.
“Whatever brings people to Allston, there really is a community and that’s been really great to be getting involved,” she added.
Cunningham said that during her short time here she has noticed some changes in the neighborhood.
“It’s still keeping the basic character of Allston, but it’s bringing it up a level,” she said, before venturing inside to watch the show that included live musical performances by three local bands, The Shills, Love in Stockholm and Moniker along with a DJ set by DJ Die Young.
Dave Sicilian plays bass for The Shills, which performed at Brighton Music Hall last week for the first time since the venue changed ownership and its name after a 40-year run as Harpers Ferry. While the four-member band’s still lives in Allston, Sicilian said he has moved out of the neighborhood.
“We’ve all done our time in Allston,” the 31-year-old said. “It’s a great community. I grew up around here. We’ve been playing shows around here at Great Scott and O’Brien’s [Pub] for forever.”
The more than $3,000 in proceeds from the volunteer-run event benefit its hosting organization, Allston Village Main Streets, a public-private nonprofit that aids local businesses.
“This year, we wanted to make the event more promotional all around to make Allston Village a destination and show what we have to offer,” the nonprofit’s director Alana Olsen said.
Guests were given goodie bags filled with coupon and information about local merchants participating in the event and others – Buried Treasures, Buffalo Exchange, Boston Sports Club, Orchard Skate Shop, Allston Pudding, the Weekly Dig, 92.9 FM – who helped sponsor the show.
During the fashion show, models – about half of whom had no fashion show experience before a rehearsal in the days leading up to last Thursday – walked along a runway wearing clothing lent out by local retailers, including: AWOL, Buried Treasures, Kendall Van Bretto Collection, Orchard Skate Shop, and Stingray Body Art
“I like rock, I think it’s a good cause, and I love being on the runway, plus the designers are awesome,” she said.
Duarte, 29, lives on the North Shore but has visited Allston for its nightlife.
“I love it. If I move to Boston, this would be my area,” she said.
To see photos from last year’s show: click here.
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(Matt Rocheleau for Boston.com)