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Reporter Turned Fashion Show Host a Dream Realized

By Stephanie Tipple

Chances are, as you’re going through life, there are things that you’re going to want to do, see or accomplish. These goals often end up filed mentally in a, “bucket list,” for a time where you feel gutsy enough, or find the opportune time to check them off your list. I got to check off an item on my bucket list this past week; that being, to run and host my own fashion show. While this sounds trite, and may conjure up images of a sequel to the Devil Wears Prada, it’s not for the glamorized and vain reasons as one may imagine.

In high school I was studying fashion merchandising, and loved every minute of the clothing, the managing, and the glossy paged magazines. As part of our graduation requirement I was to host a fashion show in my senior year. I pored over every detail of the show for seven months, creating seating charts, clothing line up, researching trends to showcase, and putting together a music playlist. After all, what’s a fashion show without a killer playlist? That fashion show consumed my free time, and my mental energy. I was electric with excitement to host the show and achieve my goal.

And then a week before the show, Rhode Island, my home state and where the show was to take place, was hit with a devastating flood. This flood destroyed many homes, roads and buildings – the mall where I was borrowing the clothing for the show, included. Seeing on TV the mall turning into a Sea World exhibit washed my dreams away, both figuratively and literally. And so, the fashion show was filed away in the back of my mind, relegated to the ole’ bucket list. It was like those moments where you feel a piece is empty, and there’s unfinished business that needs to be attended to.

But time went on, and my college years, filled with course work and activities, helped to push the fashion show deeper in the back of my mind. That is, until one week ago. A classmate of mine, we’ll call her Jane, informed me that she was hosting a fashion show, and invited me to attend, to cover the event for the NOVA Fortnightly – Northern Virginia Community College’s newspaper. The minute she mouthed, “fashion show,” a spark lit in my mind, and I saw a rush of imagery from my own I had pictured. If I could explain my look of surprise I would, but a picture would probably last longer. I immediately agreed to cover the show, and a mood of bittersweet happiness fell over me. I was excited to have some part in the show, but what if another natural disaster swept this show away too? For all I knew, I had offended the fashion gods, and was cursed to forever destroy fashion shows.

When I arrived at the theater for the show an hour before the curtains were set to open, the eerie sense of calm and quiet was the first indicator that something was off. I knew firsthand about the frenzied rush of people, clothing stacked high and sound men checking the speakers that accompanied the precious hours before a fashion show. I found a girl, who had her arms comically full of high heeled stiletto shoes that could easily be repurposed as lethal weapons, who informed me that Jane wasn’t attending. Wasn’t attending? Yes, she wasn’t attending her own fashion show.

As if I hadn’t missed a beat, I slipped into my old fashion student mode, asking who was in charge of lining models up, styling and what the plans were. The blank expression on the model’s face gave me all the information I needed to know: these people needed my help. I took off to the back staging area, to see piles of clothes, only three models, and a sea full more of blank expressions that the model I questioned had given me. This fashion show was in bad shape, and I was armed only with my reporter notebook and a cup of Starbucks passion tea. This was like one of those survival scenarios where you’re dropped in the desert with only a toothpick and a couple yards of string.

A very bewildered man was attempting to style the girls, with a room full of male models across the hall that were also waiting to be dressed. Dropping my things, I began pulling through the racks of clothing and accessories, all while a very unhappy store manager sat to the side of the room, rightfully frustrated and confused as to the general chaos and a lack of presence from Jane. Calling out models by their features, since there was no time to learn names, I found that these models hadn’t tried on any of the clothes, nor had they given Jane their sizes beforehand, and oh, by the way, half of the models weren’t even there yet. This is a face palm moment, as models and organizers are supposed to show up two hours early. Oh, and did I mention there was no set list for segments of clothing? It was just me, a pile of clothing, a few bewildered models and a store manager that was just as confused as to what was going on as I was.

I guess this would be a time to say that I think well on my feet, and I live for the stresses and pressure of life. It’s that basic human fight or flight instinct, and that adrenaline sent me into a tailspin of thoughts all at once. It seems now that it was almost a blur of me pulling clothes, throwing them on models (not literally, well maybe not literally), creating segments, and getting this mess of a fashion show organized. The fear, and excitement and electric vibration of chaos that came from this last minute preparation was exhilarating, and in a sense, the way I imagined my own fashion show would be. Four o’clock came and went too quickly, but within an hour, I had established a clothing line up and with the help of the bewildered male I mentioned earlier, we were able to get the girls out on the runway.

While it may have felt like a crashing, staggering, live or die moment when I was rushing around the dressing area, the rush of relief that washed over me when the models hit the stage was one that I won’t forget. It’s like submerging yourself in a tub, and lying there, letting the water lap over you. Or even that moment before you go to sleep, where you seem completely at peace with the world was comparable to this moment. The models made it out onto the runway in one piece, despite my throwing around clothes and barking out orders, and I managed (hopefully) to abate some of the frustrations of the retail manager.

I checked off one item on my bucket list, an item that I never thought I would complete. I hate to bring in karma, although I’m a big believer in it, or even fate, but the fact that Jane couldn’t make it to her fashion show, and I got to slip into the leadership role felt right somehow, like a karmic wrong had been righted. I had finally gotten to have my fashion show. If you’ve ever seen Tower of Terror with your children, you’ll understand the reference of the relief the ghosts experienced when they finally got to that party on the top of the hotel.

While my bucket list continues to grow, I hope that I don’t forget moments like this, and that my “bucket” is empty when my time is up. What are items on your bucket list that you have accomplished, or want to accomplish? I’d love to hear your stories.


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