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They Come Bearing Gifts in the Form of Fashion!

Scene from previous show at ECNTHS

Fashion shows tend to bring out the dramatized and imaginative side of normal people. Nothing is middling, simplicity is out the window, while everything else is extravagant and bold. For instance, the person who is in the production, their hair is stiffened in some sort of abstract and bouffant style. He or she has smoky eyes that are darkened like Goth, and a normal stride on a walkway turns into poised and assertive lunges down a runway filled with media, bloggers, and gurus. You are now considered a model whereas any other day you're just (insert name).

When we really plunge into the diplomatic aspects of fashion—we tend to think about New York, Paris Fashion Week and even Fashion Bomb Daily, which is on a whole other level of ideals.

What if there were a group of kids and teachers that could wrangle up a fashion show just like the ones I mentioned above. What if they were that superior?

On May 13, 2016, the Essex County Newark Technical High School is re-flexing their muscle by hosting its 9th annual fashion show, themed around: Time Capsule: Past, Present, and Future.

Since the shows influx in 2008, organizers and students reveled, and with good reason. The event is kicking off another successful year under the direction of Essex County Vocational District Coordinator, and Fashion Show Producer, Ms. Delores Wallace.

Wallace plans to bring a performance like no other, with designers Tyrone Chablis, Craig Blunt, Nivet Couture, Kevin Love, Barnes Moore, Lonnie Cisco, Antonio DaSilva, Sheena Nicole, Keisha Grant, Lady E, Lawrence Lauets, Mumin McBride, and many more.

Wallace, says that the fashion presentation teaches students responsibility and esteem building. It affords them to be part of something creative and daring, while transforming them from the inside out. Wallace stated that one of the previous students was able to execute a photo shoot with Derek Blanks, while another student is designing clothing.

It seemed only suitable to speak with Ms. Wallace about her involvements in the matter.

Why keep the show going so long? Why is fashion so important to your school and why is it so important for you?

Well, basically, it’s important to me because when you think of fashion, you think of many different aspects of fashion. You have the business parts, the designer parts, the model parts, and then you have the advertisement parts. When I started doing this, we were looking at the kids. We wanted to give them something that would help them with self-esteem and confidence.

So, each show that we did always played around the workshops to help build self-esteem, and too really get into the theme that we have. We gave them assignments and they went out and did the research on each subject. We already gave the kids materials to research this year’s theme of Time Capsule: Past, Present, and Future.

We wanted to give the kids something that they probably won’t get anyplace else. It’s easy to say since you live in New York, you can go to big shows and stuff like that, or even Atlanta, but you have some of these kids that will never get that opportunity to be on a runway or model in a high-tech fashion show.

How did you come up with the concept for the 2016 theme?

I’m gonna get a little spiritual on you… each year, at the end of each show, God always gives me a theme for next year’s show. He always gives me a theme and I get with the guy that works with me, “Tyrone Chablis,” and I share my vision with him. I told him about it and he said, “Oh, my God! That’s hot!” So we both pondered on the avenue we were going to take with it, and that’s how we came up with it.

Do you have a background in fashion?

Believe it or not, fashion is not my background, but I do have family members that are in the industry. I have a niece that models and she lives in Savanna Georgia. I always liked fashion. I like seeing other people looking good, and not only do I look good myself, but I like to see other people, and kids basically look and give their self-worth. As far as their worth, how you look on the outside matches what’s on the inside. God just gave me the passion.

What can participants expect from this fashion show? What kind of textures? What kind of styles?

This year, we have some things that’s going to be kind of vintage. We had a vote with the designers about pieces that was near and dear to them, that they didn’t want to let go. We also have a couple of designers that’s working with texture patterns and different colors, shapes, and all kinds of stuff like that.

How do you balance being the vocational district coordinator and the fashion show producer?

This is something that I did with one of the teachers in the district, Mr. Vandrose Williams. Williams started this 9 years ago. He did the first 4 years with me and he ended up coming down with lung cancer during the 4th show. So he did the 4th show, and after that, he passed away. Before he passed away, I told him that I didn’t know how to do it without him. He basically said that as long as you stay focused on the kids and nobody else.

With me being a parent coordinator, I always look for ways to bring the teachers and students together, so at the end of the year, they can have some fun. Every school that I'm at, I try to do something fun, or something that fits that environment. I used to do Jazz Concerts at other schools—you know, do a jazz concert for the parents. It all depends on the environment that you’re in.

What do you consider the most important facets of the fashion industry? I would say that the whole coming together and deciding on a theme—also, when themes just come together, I think that the opportunity each kid learns from each theme that God gives me; then, you’re tying it to fashion. It just basically gives people an opportunity, even people who never did a fashion show, or put their clothes in fashion shows… they never did it and they come to me wanting to put a piece in just to see how it’s going to flow. Their pieces flow, and they end of up loving it, which makes them return and want to do more.

Fashion is ever changing. It kind of recycles itself. That’s what I want to show through the transitions of this show. We are going back and reaching into the vault to pull some things out. We are going to show them how fashion connects to other decades of fashion. A lot of the things you see in the 30’s 40’s and 50’s, people are wearing it now, although it has a different twist to it. So, I try to connect them, and connect the students by allowing them to express themselves. But doing it in a way that they are pleased with themselves as well as others.

Your fashion show has grown wildly, which has allowed you to work with a lot of famous people, how does that make you feel?

Well you know what, I’m the modest person. I’m a southern girl by nature. My nephew owns Street Execs--he manages 2 Chainz. So, I’ve been in the limelight a little bit. My niece interviewed TI… so I’ve kind of been around things like that. To me, they are just people. Even though they do what they do, that doesn’t take away from their craft, but it makes me feel good. But at the same time, I try to keep the focus on my students and making them feel good to be honest with you.

What does it take for the students to be in the fashion show? I let the students audition. I have a team that comes in as well as judges. The students walk—they show us their walk…

What are the duties of being a fashion show producer? Basically, putting together the audition dates, practices, making sure I have a good team, I have a modeling coach, ensuring I have a right hand person. Right now, I have a parent whose child graduated about 4 or 5 years ago, and she’s still working with me today. She keeps track of all our budgets. She gets together with team and comes up with a themed flyer that matches our show. She helps with photo shoots, modeling contracts, and many other things. It’s a lot, but I enjoy it.

Ms. Wallace on the left...

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