By Michelle Miller
---- — The runway is set up and ready to go in the Cooperstown Middle/High School auditorium.
On Friday, Cooperstown students will become stars of a student-run fashion show. This will mark the eighth year of the event, which will kick off at 7:30 p.m.
According to Co-director Abby Wilcox, the show continues to grow and the goal is to keep the tradition alive. She said this year’s festivities will feature more designers than ever.
“It is going to be a huge year,” she said. “We have a lot of younger kids too, so that means there will be more for the future. That is going to be great.”
Organizers say they try to make the show as close to an actual runway as possible.
“We try to make it original and more exciting each year,” Wilcox said.
The show has taken on an overall theme before, but will not do so this year. According to Wilcox, the designers will have their own subject of artistic representation. For example, she said her designs will take on a “Girly Girl Goes Punk” theme. Wilcox added that Lindsay Brown plans to incorporate an Asian theme, and her co-director, Sara Breiten, chose a “party dress” motif.
Last year’s event featured a behind-the-scenes video about each designer for the first time. Wilcox said the plan is to do something similar again.
“(Breiten and I) are going to talk about putting on the show and what is next for us because it is like an end of an era for me and her,” she said. It is especially for me because it is my fifth year doing the show and I am kind of attached.”
Breiten emceed at the show last year, but Wilcox said they will both be taking on that role, since it will be their last year doing the show. The Donny Brooks Band will provide live entertainment during intermission. The show will be followed by a reception where refreshments will be sold and people can meet the fashion designers and models. Admission is $2 at the door. Donations will also be accepted.
According to organizers, the fashion show began as a high school event, but keeps on evolving. So much so the event had to be moved. It used to be held in the second-floor ballroom of 22 Main Street in Cooperstown.
Cooperstown graduates Jessica Haggerty-Denson and Phoenix Miller started the fashion show because it was something they were both passionate about. The event has since been handed down for peers to organize.
This will mark Wilcox’s third year directing the show and Breiten’s second. Both are seniors and will have to hand down the reins. They have called on Taylor Bayes (who is in Germany on Rotary exchange) and Aaron Idelson (who is the tech director this year) to take on the directing responsibilities.
The event has always been student-run, but last year the group became an official club at the school.
Wilcox said a lot of work goes into the show — with students starting on their designs as early as the first month of school and rehearsing for two or three hours every day after school weeks in advance of the final production.
Wilcox, a senior, began participating in the show as the youngest designer when she was in eighth-grade.
“I feel it would be really mean to deny eighth-graders from participating when I was given the amazing opportunity at that age,” she said.
Designers this year range from eighth to 12th grade, Wilcox said. Models can be of any age as long as they are committed and show up for practices, she added.
There really are no strict rules for participating as a designer; however, Wilcox said nobody is allowed to use purchased items.
“You cannot just go buy a t-shirt and spray paint it,” she said. “Everything must be handmade and must be school appropriate. Designers have to come up with their own models and music.”
She said designers are asked to come up with at least five “looks” unless organizers approve something different.
Becoming a part of the fashion world has always been an aspiration of Wilcox’s. However, she said her dream of attending the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City has altered just a bit.
“Fashion will always be a part of my life, but I actually want to go to Genesee Community College for two years for business, so I can kind of focus more on the business side of fashion. Then I will go somewhere else to get my bachelor’s, but I am not sure I want to stay in the fashion realm of things or if I want to go and have my own cupcake business because I have been doing a lot of that lately.”
The teen won the “New York’s Next Top Prom Designer” contest sponsored by Rainbow’s End Bridal Shop in Oneonta last year. Her design was sent to China to be produced as an actual dress. Wilcox said she got the dress about two months ago and has it stored at the school to show off and let friends try on. She said she used the cash prize to put toward a dress she wore to a semiformal.
Wilcox said she is excited for the fashion show, but also called it bittersweet.
“It has been my favorite thing about high school,” she said, “so it is going to be really weird not having it in my life anymore.”