December 4, 2023

For the first time, clothes from a high-end consignment store will appear on the runway of New York Fashion Week. And they’re coming from La Jolla’s own Boulevard boutique on Girard Avenue.

Over the next few weeks, owner Kate Whitney and the team at Boulevard will pore over its inventory and accept new consignment items to find the right pieces to assemble 30 “elegant but edgy” looks that combine high-end fashion houses such as Oscar de la Renta, Dior, Gucci and Alexander McQueen with more accessible pieces.

With a Sept. 3 departure and a runway show on Friday, Sept. 8, “there’s going to be a lot of breathing in the next few weeks,” Whitney said with a laugh, “and truly developing the collection.”

“We want to show that resale is just as good as retail,” she said. The prospect of doing so on one of the country’s biggest stages in fashion is “really exciting,” she added.

The Boulevard store at 7730 Girard Ave. in La Jolla will provide clothes for New York Fashion Week.

The Boulevard store at 7730 Girard Ave. in La Jolla will provide clothes for New York Fashion Week.

(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Representatives of New York Fashion Week did not respond to the La Jolla Light’s request for comment.

“We have a mission to help women find themselves, and I think the people from New York Fashion Week liked that,” Whitney said.

“If you walk into another store, they are going to tell you what to get based on what they have, but we have everything from Zara to Chanel, so you can find what you like,” she said. “We have a global market of clothes to serve a global market of women. That’s what we believe is a sustainable mission — not just reusable clothes, but making people feel really good about themselves.”

“Many women are afraid to step out of the box, and we want them to see the potential.”

— Kate Whitney, owner of Boulevard

Whitney is familiar with fashion shows, having hosted them at her store occasionally since opening two years ago.

“A lot of clothes do not have hanger appeal and women can have a hard time visualizing how something will look on them and will look with other pieces,” Whitney said. “And many women are afraid to step out of the box, and we want them to see the potential. Fashion shows are how we did that.”

La Jolla resident Kathleen Rafaat has frequented those shows and will accompany Whitney to New York Fashion Week to be one of the models walking the runway in Boulevard clothes.

“I am 73 and I think I look good, but older women are not represented and I feel like by going and representing that age group, it shows we can wear the clothes and model just like someone much younger,” Rafaat said. “I want to represent the people that aren’t the 21-year-old perfect models.”

“I have no idea what is going to happen, but I am really excited,” she said.

Rafaat, who teaches yoga and meditation in La Jolla, said she likes wearing “funky but elegant” clothes, making Whitney’s plan a perfect fit.

“I just want to have fun,” Rafaat said. “That and loving what you are in is the point of modeling for me. Kate has such beautiful clothes and can put amazing looks together, so I know it is going to be a great show.”

A page from the Boulevard lookbook features La Jolla resident Kathleen Rafaat walking a runway.

A page from the Boulevard lookbook that was submitted to New York Fashion Week features La Jolla resident Kathleen Rafaat walking a runway.

(Kate Whitney)

Though Rafaat modeled in her youth, starting when she was 15, she said the experience wasn’t enjoyable because of the pressures put on her.

“I was entered in beauty pageants and worked for Seventeen magazine and they always said I looked like a California girl but wasn’t high-fashion enough for other things,” she said. “So I walked a few runways, but never anything big.”

Rafaat said walking in New York Fashion Week in her 70s feels “full circle in a beautiful way.”

“[It’s] something I never thought I would do, but I love what Kate is doing, so I’m honored to be a part of it.”

Boulevard is at 7730 Girard Ave. For more information, including about the store’s consignment policies, visit or call (619) 665-5645.

The New York Fashion Week runway shows, including the one in which Boulevard will participate, will stream online Sept. 8-13 at ◆