Back to school in style
By Donna Rettew Post-Tribune correspondent August 17, 2011 3:30PM
Girls who particpated in the Back to School Fashion Show hosted by the Valparaiso Public Library pose for a group photo. All clothing pictured was provided by Maurices. | Steph Langan~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 19, 2011 4:20AM
Allie Nagy of Valparaiso chose a black tube-style dress with a multi-colored bodice for her trip down the “runway” recently at the Valparaiso branch of the Porter County Public Library.
She and 12 other girls presented a back-to-school fashion show to the public. Their outfits came from Maurices of Valparaiso, a clothing store that caters to teens and young adults.
Nagy was the first to model the clothes she chose. She walked down the center aisle of the downstairs meeting room wearing 3-inch black heels, while upbeat music played from the sound system.
Announcing each model was Jenna Kosky, youth services assistant at the library and coordinator of the event. In addition to describing each girl’s outfit, from top to bottom, she also shared the girls’ future plans. Nagy’s include either modeling or designing clothes.
The cheering crowd was there, too, made up of parents, grandparents, siblings and friends. The “paparazzi” also was there, although the multiple photographers knew these models personally. Flash cameras, movie cameras and cellphone cameras were all in liberal use.
“I was looking through files in my office and saw that in the early ’90s, the library’s youth services department put on a fashion show, but with younger kids,” said Kosky about the idea’s origin.
“I mentioned the idea during a staff meeting and (library clerk) Kellie Borth said that as a former manager at Maurices, she thought they would want to work with us.”
Kosky said that as soon as it was announced, girls were asking about the show and how they could participate.
“We filled all available spots quickly,” she said.
Kosky said Maurices was immediately interested in helping and allowed the models to come in after closing one Sunday evening.
“The models got to go in and pick out their outfits, shoes and accessories,” she said, adding that prior to the fitting, the store manager had set aside some outfits that were ideal for the back-to-school concept.
“From there, the models had a chance to pick out what they liked and felt confident in,” Kosky said. Confidence was indeed present, as each girl strutted securely down the aisle.
Following Nagy was Marisa Johnson, 12, of Valparaiso, who displayed a cinched cami and lace tee over skinny jeans tucked into fall boots. Her sunglasses and bronze belt and purse completed the outfit. She hopes to become a veterinary surgeon instructor one day.
Showcasing a military look was Molly Dashiell, 12, of Valparaiso, who chose pieces to enhance a military feel. She is interested in pursuing women’s ministries.
Her mother, Deb, encouraged her to participate, knowing how tricky it is to find appropriate clothing in junior girl sizes.
“I liked her choice,” Deb said. “(Molly’s outfit) fit her well and was appropriate for her age. She has good taste in clothes.”
Molly’s younger sister, Lily, 11, didn’t think the models were beginners, though.
“It was nice to have people who really knew how to do it professionally,” Lily said.
Kosky said the fashion show was a great opportunity for teenaged models to have fun and build confidence in a safe and supportive environment.
“They all did so well and we’re proud of the maturity they displayed,” she said.
Those attending the fashion show also were encouraged to bring donations of school supplies for Valparaiso’s Housing Opportunities, which offers assistance to low-income families facing homelessness. Several bags full of supplies were collected.
“The fashion show was the perfect chance to partner with Housing Opportunities,” Kosky said. “It was nice to see the generosity in donations to their cause.
“The fashion show was a big project,” she continued, “and one that we feel turned out well. I can foresee doing the event again, especially to tie in to going back to school.”