by Phoebe Ho
TORONTO, March 9 (Xinhua) -- Chinese diplomats and their spouses waltzed down the runway at a fashion show here on Friday night to mark the International Women's Day.
The event featured over 60 volunteer models -- made up of female politicians, diplomats and their spouses, and women in the local Chinese community -- who took the stage to showcase a variety of cultural costumes and musical performances.
Zhang Meifang, Chinese deputy consul general in Toronto, the largest city in Canada, said it's important to pay tribute to women's many social and economic contributions on this big day.
"I do believe that women are playing an extremely important role in our social and economic development, and also in the building of our country and a harmonious world," Zhang told Xinhua.
She believes there's no better way to highlight women's beauty, intelligence and achievements than to display the traditional Chinese clothing Qipao and ethnic costumes.
"Qipao is the most popular, most famous Chinese traditional dress, (and) it shows women's beautiful figure, confidence and also their beauty," she explained.
Over 600 guests from all walks of life got to watch their families, friends and colleagues walk down the runway for the very first time. For many Canadians, it was also a rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of China's diverse culture.
Consul General Fang Li said while it's meant to be a fun event, they also hope to promote the two countries' cultural exchange by showing China's diversity.
"I think from today's gala evening, the Canadian people will understand Chinese minorities much better than before," he said.
The grand show is regarded as a joint effort by the volunteer models, over 20 males and 40 females, who have not only purchased their own costumes for the catwalk, but also donated hours out of their week for the last few months to practice.
But Zhang said it's all worth it in the end.
"None of us are professional, none of us have ever done a catwalk on a stage, so it's a good practice, it's a good way of learning," she said.
The Province of Ontario's Minister of Tourism Michael Chan's wife Elaine was one of the many hardworking models who took the stage. While exhausted from the long eventful day, she said it's been an exhilarating experience.
"It's hard, but it's fun. Everybody tried hard," she said.
"It's very exciting, and this is my first time and I think it's a good opportunity to learn the Chinese culture and costumes," she added.
The International Women's Day first began in 1909, and has since become a global event. Fang said with all the positive feedback they've received, they're hoping to organize a similar celebration next year.