On June 9, the End Child Hunger Organization club hosted the fashion show The Evolution to Womanhood: A Night of Fashion in the Black Box Theater. The theme for the event was “Proud to Be Me”. The show was used to raise money for local food pantries in the Mercer County area.
One purpose of the fashion show was to give students a broader perspective on PHS’ diverse student body through a display of various clothes from different locations around the world. “[ECHO is] trying to convey the idea of general acceptance and positivity about [students] and their body. We want people to be more accepting of people who may not wear the same clothes as them,” said Signe Owens ’18, co-leader of ECHO.
“After the show we hoped that all PHS students realized that it takes cultural diversity to address real world problems and we hoped they built confidence in their own abilities,” said Dr. Joy Barnes-Johnson, the ECHO advisor.
The event moreover seeks to shed light on the ability of female students to be proud of their bodies and combat the fear of judgement. “I wanted to show PHS the confidence girls can have. A lot of girls don’t really have confidence, and I know I don’t have a lot of confidence either, and this really helped me just break out of my shell and show how powerful girls can be,” said Nia Richardson ’18, a model in the show.
Additionally, the club urged residents of the Princeton area to give back and help others who lack many common privileges. “We want to let people have a really good show but also send a message. Princeton is a very rich area, but there are people living within a ten-mile radius who are struggling financially. Our main goal was to change a few people’s lives by helping people in the area, and this includes kids and adults in Princeton and Mercer County,” Owens said.
Some feel that the generosity shown through the fashion show demonstrated how much of an impact youth can make. “Allowing people to express their creative ideas through fashion, while giving back to the community, is an essential part of having a vibrant youth in this area,” James Muir ’19 said.
The fashion show took place in three rounds. The first round had models wearing their favorite outfits, representing their personalities. In the second round, models wore clothes from Plato’s Closet, and in the final round, the models presented clothing from their native countries.
Including the local outlet Plato’s Closet, the show also had other community sponsors, such as Lindt Chocolate and Panera, provide baked goods throughout the performance for the audience.
Planning for the show proved to be complicated as it was necessary to find donors willing to aid the club and the show’s efforts. “Preparing for [the show] was really stressful, what we did was we had rehearsal for models, and I had to reach out to different stores to let us borrow clothes that were fashion show-worthy. We reached out to Lindt Chocolate and they agreed to give us raffle baskets. We really had to make connections with people,” said Zainab Qureshi ’18, co-leader of ECHO.
Furthermore, it was also challenging for the club to gather a group of individuals willing to dedicate its time towards the show. “It was crazy getting a team that would help [the club], but we received a lot of help from Dr. Barnes-Johnson and Mrs. Morris,” Owens said.
Models in the show had to attend rehearsals which took place after school in room 185. These practices mainly focused on practicing runway etiquette, posture, and posing.
“We practiced what we were going to be doing when we walked down the runway. [Barnes-Johnson] taught us how to walk down the runway and how to do different turns when you walk, and after, having to pose for a certain amount of seconds and different things like that,” Richardson said.
Throughout the process of organizing the event, ECHO leaders worked alongside models in order to refine their modeling skills through critiques.
“Zainab is very down to the minute and precise, and Signe is very encouraging and gives a lot of constructive criticism, and it’s really good because it helps you structure what you need to do. It’s not like this fashion show is so relaxed you can do whatever you want. There are certain things you need to do to make it look professional, although it is not, and I think [Zainab and Signe] do a really good job of conveying that,” Forrest said.
As the models continued to rehearse for the show, they ended up creating a stronger sense of community and friendship with one another.
“I made a lot of new friends from this that I didn’t know before. Everybody’s really nice. It’s fun because we were all really shy at first, but then the more we did it, we were able to have more fun with it because we saw that we were all in this together,” Richardson said.
“We had so many hardworking, dedicated people who really wanted to work. When you have something like that, if we put the ideas together, it creates some great products,” Owens said.