With the anticipation, excitement, and electricity surrounding the build-up of Boston’s First Annual Runway Ball being surpassed only by the actual show itself, Matt Ribaudo and Amanda Vargus produced an enchanting evening of fashion, culture and community that leaves the city craving for an encore. 

Model: Madeline Adams | Designer: Jacque Label | Image: Andrew Dunne | Cover Design: Jill Donahue

A thunderous wave of applause swept through the the Park Plaza as the lights surged to life following the final catwalk, signaling the culmination of Boston’s most extraordinary fashion show extravaganza yet.

With radiant smiles adorning their faces, the audience lined the runway, their enthusiasm palpable as they welcomed a procession of models, designers, and Runway Ball masterminds all bathed in the glow of a final, resounding ovation.  

In that moment, it was abundantly clear: the landscape of Boston’s fashion scene would never be the same. 

For too long, Boston had dwelled in the shadows of its more illustrious counterparts—New York, Paris, Milan—yet on that fateful December 3rd, everything changed. The inaugural Boston Annual Runway Ball heralded a seismic shift, thrusting the city into the limelight as a burgeoning fashion capital, no longer content to linger on the fringes. 

Stepping into the resplendent Grand Ballroom of the Park Plaza, guests were enveloped in an ambiance of refined sophistication, where every detail spoke to elegance and style. Live music filled the air, mingling harmoniously with the tantalizing aromas of gourmet delights and the effervescent chatter of esteemed attendees. From the luxurious expanse of the red carpet to the whimsical allure of a sparkling cotton candy stand, to the breathtaking custom portrait of Sophia Loren -dedicated to The Runway Ball by distinguished artist Giovanni DeCunto- the event was a symphony of extravagance, leaving guests enraptured from the very onset. 

“I have traveled the world, experienced every type of show with expression you can imagine,” DeCunto said. “This was right there at the top with the very best.” 

Model: Kianna Carmo | Designer: Jacque Label | Image: Andrew Dunne

The room itself was a testament to sartorial splendor, adorned with a mesmerizing array of unique gowns and cocktail dresses that graced the floor. Amidst a sea of vibrant hues and intricate embellishments, professionals and fashion enthusiasts alike mingled, their spirits buoyed by the electric atmosphere of the Runway Ball. 

As anticipation reached a fever pitch, all eyes turned towards the focal point of the room—a majestic 60-foot runway, poised to showcase the talents of Boston’s finest local designers. Each seat along its expanse -from those along the runway to those in the mezzanine-  were a coveted vantage point, offering an unobstructed view of the impending spectacle that awaited. 

With a hush falling over the crowd, the lights dimmed, and the first notes of music reverberated through the Park Plaza, signaling the commencement of the show. As models sashayed down the runway with an intoxicating blend of poise and confidence, the atmosphere crackled with excitement, heightened by unexpected bursts of fire that danced along the runway’s edge—a playful harbinger of the awe-inspiring night that lay ahead. 

Featuring the innovative creations of seven distinct designers, each imbued with its own signature style, the show was a veritable feast for the senses. From bold silhouettes to intricate detailing, every ensemble exuded an air of fearless creativity, captivating the audience with its sheer audacity. 

“The production truly captivated and embodied the essence of all seven of us (designers) that presented,” says Stephanie Munoz, designer and founder of MPOZE Fashion. “It was giving major fashion week vibes and we all felt seen, appreciated and validated for its quality and work.” 

Stephanie Munoz of MPOZE Fashion (Image by Rob Hare)

Yet, it was not merely the garments themselves that left an indelible impression; it was the collective vision of the trailblazing trio—Amanda Vargus, CEO of Wave+Woven; Matt Ribaudo, CEO and publisher of BostonMan Magazine; and Jimmie Espo, esteemed member of the BostonMan Magazine advisory board and founder of ‘The 617 Event Group’—whose unwavering commitment to celebrating local talent and fostering community spirit ignited a newfound sense of pride in Boston’s fashion landscape. 

“The electricity of the night was only overshadowed by the sheer magnitude of what this show meant to our city,” Espo beams. 

Jimmie Espo of The 617 Event Group | Image: Rob Hare

As the final model took her bow and the applause swelled to a crescendo, it was abundantly clear that The Runway Ball had forever altered the trajectory of Boston’s fashion scene.  

“The best fashion event in Boston in a very long time,” confirms Bless Mazarua, founder of Bless by Bless, and designer who closed the show, rousing attendees with dazzling pieces from his latest collection. “It was inclusive, amazing talent, and had the best food and energy. Nobody before Wave + Woven and BostonMan has done something this cool for local desingers.” 

Designer: Bless by Bless

A premier social event that transcended mere spectacle, it had become a beacon of inspiration and innovation—a testament to the city’s boundless creative spirit and its unyielding resolve to claim its rightful place on the global stage. 

“I just never understood why people would always say ‘Boston can’t do this’ or ‘Boston can’t do that’ when it comes to fashion and shows,” Vargus says. “This was about showing the world what we know Boston can do.” 

Ribaudo, who also celebrated the 5-year anniversary of his trendy publication, BostonMan Magazine at The Runway Ball adds:  

“We knew going into this we were battling a stigma (in Boston) on what the perceived limitations should be. I didn’t even fully know what was inside Amanda’s head regarding the combined level of theatre and fashion production. But I knew enough to run with and help execute it.” 

He pauses before concluding his thought. Both Ribaudo and Vargus are known for having demanding expectations of themselves and each other. What many marvel over, they often say, “we can do better.” 

A small smile breaks across his face. “I think it’s safe to say we delivered on this one.” 

The highly anticipated second annual Runway Ball is rumored to already be in the works, and an entire city eagerly awaits any details on its planning.  

“I’d tentatively circle Sunday, December 8th in your calendar for now,” Ribaudo says grinning. 

And with that what could expectations of an encore be for 2024? 

“Bigger and better than last year,” says Vargus. “We can always do better.” 

(WATCH THIS for a glimpse inside Boston’s Runway Ball.)

Fashion writer Elizabeth Pehota and her fiancé Matt Keemon enjoying everything Boston’s Runway Ball (Image by Rob Hare)

Please also read: Stitching History: Yolanda Cellucci’s Glamorous Trailblazing Fashion History by Elizabeth Pehota, one of the iconic five covers commemorating BostonMan Magazine’s five year anniversary at Boston’s Runway Ball.