NEWARK — The gymnasium of St. Michael’s School was transformed into a fashion lover’s paradise Jan. 21, when the school held its first-ever fashion show and luncheon.
A tulle-covered archway — adorned with white Christmas lights — welcomed spectators into the gymnasium, where a long runway stretched from one side of the room to the other. The sounds of soft music floated through the room, jewelry, cosmetics and designer-handbag vendors sold their wares along the rear wall, and spectators browsed and chatted as they waited for the show to start.
The atmosphere was very different downstairs, where the models were busy putting the finishing touches on their clothes, hair and makeup. These models were not celebrities who’d flown in from the far reaches of the globe, however. They were none other than St. Michael’s staff, students and parents.
The fashion show was a fundraiser for the school, said Shannon Heller, principal. Heller became interested in the idea of a fashion-show fundraiser after attending a similar event last year at her children’s school, Our Mother of Sorrows in Greece. Heller had been looking for a unique fundraiser for St. Michael’s and thought a fashion show might be exactly what she was looking for.
“I passed the idea by my faculty, parents and various committees and they, too, thought it was a fresh, new idea. St. Michael School had never had one, nor has the surrounding Newark community,” Heller said. “From that point on we went into full gear searching for vendors, donations, participants, decorations and loans.”
Fifteen local businesses agreed to sponsor the show, and more than two dozen other local businesses, organizations and individuals supported it as well. A volunteer put together 19 gift baskets to use as centerpieces, which were raffled off during the show, and several of the vendors donated to the school a portion of the proceeds of that day’s sales.
Nearly 50 faculty members, students and family members volunteered to be models, and Fashion Bug, Coldwater Creek and Gap agreed to let the models borrow outfits for the show. Two Rochester morning-radio personalities — Sandy Waters and Carson from WPXY-FM — served as commentators, introducing the models and describing their outfits.
Six-year-old Madison Devlin modeled an outfit from Gap. In her jean jacket and pink skirt, purse, pony-tail holder, key chain and sunglasses, Madison was “the quintessential Gap girl,” Waters noted. Madison chose the outfit because pink is one of her favorite colors, she said, jumping up and down with excitement as she described the clothes.
Madison also said she’d never been in a fashion show before, but thought it looked like fun.
“When I practiced I was a little nervous, but I think today I shouldn’t be nervous,” the first-grader said moments before climbing onto the runway. “I think today I can get up there in my cute little outfit and show everyone.”
Madison’s mother, Jean Devlin, also worked the runway that afternoon, modeling a Coldwater Creek outfit. Like her daughter, Devlin had never modeled before, but said she enjoyed the experience. It also gave her an excuse to spend a whole day shopping with Madison, she said.
“I absolutely loved it. It’s an awesome fundraiser,” Devlin said after she returned from the runway.
Fifth-grader Laura Tickner had never modeled before either, but it has been a dream of hers for quite some time.
“I always wanted to be a model or a teacher, and I might want to be on America’s Next Top Model when I’m older,” Laura said, referring to a reality television show created by supermodel Tyra Banks.
Laura, 10, modeled a Fashion Bug outfit with a purse that she thought looked like it was made by Coach, a popular designer. She was glad the show gave her a chance to represent her school while having fun with her friends and indulging in her first love — fashion.
“I just love clothes. Don’t we all love clothes?” she gushed.
Fellow fifth-grader Katey Sciandra, 10, said she volunteered to model because she likes performing in front of people. Seventh-grader Alyson Greco, 12, said she usually just wears jeans and a shirt, so it was fun to wear some new clothes.
Eighth-grader Nathan Stowell, 13, said he likes dressing up, but he usually only does that for special events. He decided to model in the fashion show because he’d never modeled before and likes trying new things.
The fashion show was a huge success and will definitely be an annual event, Heller said after the show, which brought in about $4,300 for the school.
“I am so proud of our committee and school for putting on such a successful and fun-filled event. They did a great job,” Heller said.