May 24, 2024
2024 Fashion Show Participants on Stage
Photo by Leeana Bala

The 2024 Fashion Show Caps Year of Student Effort

In the Fashion Merchandising classroom on April 10th, Ah-Jhanay Daise convenes with Genesis Sanchez Alvarez. They are making a bikini top with colorful bubble beads. Daise shows Alvarez sew-on patches for her denim romper. Alvarez pins pleated white fabric on a mannequin in what appears to be the shape of a cross-over halter top.

They appear to be at work, but they put up a casual atmosphere; the same kind of feeling you get when you spend time with a close friend. Before being interviewed, fashion show director Mia-Soleil Saintil jokes, “I need a media team.” All throughout, the girls laugh and sing “Beautiful Liar” by Shakira and Beyonce.

The Herkimer County Community College Fashion Club’s fashion show is in 16 days, but outfits are due much sooner. There are eight segments in the show with one or two designers working on each one. Some are more focused on styling and repurposing clothing. Those that are making outfits from scratch are here, rushing to get done in time.

Saintil is sitting next to Daise, helping her with the bikini top.  “I would say this semester is going on very fast-paced, and the days have gone by fast enough, but I would say we’re somewhat on track to getting things together.”

On top of helping with designs, she has to manage stage rehearsals every Wednesday and Friday from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. “I’m not a designer, but I know everyone has put in their music. I know the models are getting better every day, getting more comfortable on the stage. I would say a lot of outfits are actually coming together, the accessories and everything… I’m excited.”

Alvarez’ piece is for her own category called Ethereal Egyptian, which will conclude the fashion show. It is much more choreographed compared to the preceding segments. It even has backup dancers who will be dancing all throughout, with one of the songs being “Beautiful Liar.”

Alvarez also designed for the 2023 fashion show. “We were in the same predicament last fashion show with time, and so we did a little thing where we stayed at school throughout the whole week. So 6:00 a.m. until we got our stuff done, which was kind of fun. We ate out of vending machines. I feel like at that time, everybody was, like, together. It was fun.”

“[From last year] I learned to not put things last minute. Did I apply that this semester? Obviously not,” she laughs. Despite the time crunch, she is excited for the show. “I won’t say we’re better than last year, but I would say with this kind of progress I’m not too stressed. We have more creative people now.”

For the week of April 26th, Soleil has scheduled dress rehearsals for Monday and Thursday. Practice officially starts at 5:00 p.m. and ends at 9:00 p.m., but due to attendance problems, they usually get started around 6:30.

Their objective at rehearsals is to run through the show as they would in front of an audience. Sometimes, designers will run through their segment up to three times to make sure they’re perfect. After a segment is done, models get only five minutes to change outfits.

On top of that, Kathleen Miseno-Bowles is backstage at the lighting board. Her job is to program lighting sequences to the designer’s liking.

Miseno-Bowles has been doing backstage work for six years, but this is her first work on a fashion show rather than a theatrical production. “The vibe was different,” says Miseno-Bowles. “I enjoyed working with some designers more than others for sure, but overall, a decent experience.”

In the five minutes between each segment, co-hosts Alvarez and Amanda Darling perform for the audience. Darling also works as a backstage manager. She warns models frequently that if they aren’t ready in time, she will run the segment without them. On the day of the actual show, this warning was, for the most part, not needed.

The show on April 26th is well attended. The audience responds excitedly to the models on stage. One audience member even barks at model Ally Civetta. (According to Civetta, this audience member is a friend of hers.)

The last segment of the show, Ethereal Egyptian, is especially difficult to prepare for. Most of the outfits are safety-pinned to the models, which takes more time and backstage assistance. The models, dancers, and Alvarez share their frustrations.

Nevertheless, the music and choreography enchant the audience. The segment opens to “Beautiful Liar” with model Ashley Peterson on a stepladder and Alisea Scott, Jaheim Barber, and Ah-Jhanay Daise as dancers. They are all dressed in draping amber-colored fabric. Later in the segment, Imani McNeal models a white full-length gown and cape, which was a bra piece pinned to mannequin just two weeks ago.

Miseno-Bowles says Ethereal Egyptian was her favorite part of the show. “I liked the music and the vibe.” Model William McDermott says his favorite outfit was in the segment. “I think my favorite one is in Genesis’ [segment], it kind of shows off my body.”

In the middle of the show, fashion merchandising professor Alesha Bowman shows a video commemorating the Fashion Club’s graduating students. This includes Alvarez and Saintil. They and several other graduating members held very important roles in coordinating this year’s Fashion Show. Next year, they will have to pass the torch to new members.

“I would like Ashley Peterson to be the fashion director,” says Saintil. “She has amazing potential to lead and make sure that the show will be amazing next year.”

The 2025 fashion show will need several committed members, and not just in the top positions. The show will need a strong group of models, designers, and backstage volunteers. Those who are interested can get started by attending Fashion Club starting in the 2024 Fall semester. Soleil wants to advise next year’s team to “keep pushing through the ups and downs, because when the show happens, it’s all going to be worth it.”

Lyla Williams

Lyla Williams is a Communication & Media major at HCCC. She is regularly involved in Fashion Club and has previously been involved with Theater Club and other on-campus media activities.

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