Lights, runway, action: Rowan’s glow-in-the-dark fashion show steals the spotlight

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"The idea of this fashion show initially sparked when RAH staff last fall semester were watching America’s Next Top Model and thought of tying the show into an event to bring on to campus." - Contributor / Haileigh King

Students strutted down the runway at the Chamberlain Student Center after learning modeling techniques from industry professionals on Feb. 3. This year’s “glow-in-the-dark” themed fashion show took place from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. through the Rowan After Hours (RAH) Next Top Model event in collaboration with the organization Beauty in Distress (BID). 

The idea of this fashion show initially sparked when the RAH staff last fall semester were watching America’s Next Top Model and thought of tying the show into an event to bring on to campus. RAH’s Assistant Director Aleeyah Oliphant-Jean worked with BID club E-board members in meetings to plan the show. After contacting Crown Bound Pageant Consulting founder Ciera Nicole, she agreed to be a runway model leader for students at the event. By working together to create workshops, choreography, and themed activities, students were allowed to learn how to model and participate in a fashion show. 

“We want students to feel confident about themselves. We just want people to feel comfortable expressing who they are on stage. It’s a great skill to have, it’s a great way to feel confident about yourself, especially during this season,” said Oliphant-Jean. “It’s Valentine’s Day, whether you’re doing it for someone or doing it for yourself, it’s always good to feel confident this time of year.” 

Multiple interactive workshops were set up throughout the center including a lip gloss making and nail design station. Featuring the nail booth was an arrangement of nail polish colors from all over the rainbow across a table for students to choose from. Rhinestone nail charms and studs were also available and students were given a nail polish remover wipe, nail filer, and take-home bag. A glitter lip gloss-making table was also set up which allowed students to dip a syringe into a lip gloss mix and use sweet almond or coconut oil to help the mixture become less sticky. A DIY station was filled with students doing manicures and creating lip glosses. 

“My main priority is making sure the DIY goes well, which is lip gloss making and I had so much fun coming up with it for this event and putting together all the steps and that’s what I hope goes well personally,” said Goldie Burnett, senior anthropology major, and RAH DIY coordinator. “Giving people something like a little souvenir to take home at the end of the night to remember their time, is just I think a nice way to sort of wrap up their experience at RAH.” 

The runway workshop began in the student pit where runway coaches Ciera Nicole and Darius Thompson showcased a choreographed model routine. They encouraged students to learn to walk on stage by themselves and get used to feeling comfortable in front of an audience. Following a couple of runs, students learned a three-combination routine on the runway platform. Students were instructed to never look down and always keep direct eye contact with audience members for at least three seconds. 

All participants were able to receive advice on their future in the modeling industry through coaches who’ve had nearly two decades’ worth of experience in the field. Nicole advises aspiring models to be optimistic and have ambition.

“Take every opportunity, search for fashion shows, runway coaching programs, whether it’s in your community or your school just everywhere because every chance or every opportunity you take, you’ll get better,” said Nicole. “Just don’t stop your search for different fashion weeks and always audition, don’t be afraid to audition and put yourself out there because you just learn more.” 

Students transitioned into the next workshop to learn a new routine and skills in modeling. Many students wore heels to practice which aided in perfecting poses and strides. A pose such as the classic model stance where the model places their left foot behind the right was taught. Other stances such as the double V twist and the Chanel were demonstrated. When learning the routines, songs ranging from Flo Rida to Rihanna blasted through the speakers for students to strut to these artists’ tunes. Students who participated in the workshops were allowed to then walk in the fashion show by BID. 

“We wanted some people who were just wanting to try something new and also to have a good time,” said psychology major Amya Dickenson and BID’s vice president. “My advice for aspiring models is to give modeling a chance and don’t compare yourself to other people. It’s really fun and when you get to experience it and you have a good experience with people it makes your life worth it.” 

Those who engaged in the runway workshops were asked before the fashion show to feature what they learned and walked. For the “glow-in-the-dark” themed show, models dressed in light-up glasses, finger rings, and flash braids. The models had three walks consisting of a professional, personality, and duo partner walk. There were two intermissions in between featuring karaoke where the crowd all joined in to sing SZA’s song “Snooze.” Crowd members were also pulled out for dance battles and fit checks. 

“My favorite part so far is just our tech set up and our, like lighting we have going on for the fashion show later and the decor that we’ve put around,” expressed Burnett. “I think it’s brilliant work done by our tech team, all these spotlights and the color change on the catwalk, it just looks kind of like something out of RuPaul’s Drag Race a little bit.” 

Each time the models walked on stage, their style transformed as each entrance brought their individuality to light. The professional walk showcased what models had learned in the workshops while the personality walk allowed students to have fun and engage with the crowd. For the final performance of the duo walks, models came up with their choreography with a partner to show on stage. Rowan After Hours plans to create more runway-themed events in the future and The Beauty in Distress club will host their next fashion show in April. 

“Keep going, if you fall on stage or feel like you make the wrong turn, just keep going. They said before during one of the modeling workshops that if you fall, just keep going and pretend that that was supposed to happen,” said Oliphant-Jean. “I guess that’s like life too. Modeling can apply to life too, just pretend and just keep going if you have a missed step.”

For comments/questions about this story DM us on Instagram @thewhitatrowan or email the.whit.arts@gmail.com.

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