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C California Style

Style Saint

by C California Style

A young L.A. philanthropist puts her fashion background to good use.

Rochelle Gores Fredston is just as well known among schoolchildren in Watts as L.A. society circles. After her 2007 relocation from Manhattan to L.A., Suzanne Marx introduced her to the Children’s Institute, Inc. (CII)—a century-old organization helping resuscitate the city’s poorest neighborhoods through youth development programs and support services. “I wanted to be hands-on,” an expectant Gores Fredston says. “Plus, their overhead is just so lean—I was blown away.” That’s the business side of Gores Fredston talking—she’s a Senior Advisor at The Gores Group, a private equity firm her father started in 1987, and oversees the operations of top fashion brands like J. Mendel, Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent and Big Strike.

Shortly after joining the CII board, Gores Fredston launched PSLA (Philanthropic Society of Los Angeles), a committee solely devoted to raising funds for CII. In addition to volunteering, the group of hip, young entrepreneurs, fashion voices, social influencers and celebrities meet annually for the highly anticipated fashion show/fundraiser known as the Autumn Party. In the past, the event has partnered with Arcade (Gores’ former store on Melrose Avenue), designer Yigal Azrouël and J. Mendel. Saks Fifth Avenue will be the title sponsor for the upcoming fall party with funds going toward a permanent CII campus in Watts scheduled to open in 2017.

Most recently, she revived the Back to School event, outfitting kids with knapsacks and supplies, and providing haircuts, clothes and manicures. That’s the icing on the cake: “We aren’t just going in and saying ‘Here’s a bunch of stuff,’” Gores Fredston explains of a community that has been resistant to outside help. A do-whatever-it-takes ethos coupled with a fail-proof business model have opened a lot of doors. “We are seeing changes in these kids in a month, two months, three months. It’s incredible.” ps-losangeles.com.