Thursday, May 3, 2007

County school shows a flair for fashion

Douglass High is a cut above in contest

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Bryan Haynes⁄The Star
Frederick Douglass High School senior RaShayna Scott, 18, struts down therunway during Saturday’s high school fashion show at Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro. Douglass shared the $1,000 first prize with Surrattsville High School.
Two days before their first fashion show, students in Frederick Douglass High School’s fashion club were still carefully choosing accessories from thrift stores to complete their ensembles. Once it was show time, the Douglass models graced the runway with flowing gowns, heeled shoes bought at area shops and high-waisted belts. Some even wore dresses made entirely of fake flowers.

For students in Dernier Cri — the name of their fashion club —participating in the fourth annual Catwalk Classic fashion show competition sponsored by Lanham-based Cultural Communication, Inc., gave them the chance to strut their stuff down the runway and walk away with first place.

‘‘A lot of these kids are graduating so they had to go out with a bang,” said one of Dernier Cri’s sponsors, English teacher Amber Smith.

Douglass students tied for first place with Surrattsville High School, and the two will split the $1,000 cash prize.

Although placing in the competition is nothing new to the fashion savvy students of Frederick Douglass, this year was full of new challenges.

In 2005, the school won first place, and in 2006 they placed third. The challenge started when many Douglass students, including Dernier Cri members and the club’s sponsor, fashion design teacher Janay Brooks, were transferred to the newly opened Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School in Upper Marlboro in August 2006. The transferred students even took with them their former school’s club name, Fashion, Attitude, Music and Drama All together (FAMADA).

With new sponsors, new name, and plenty of new members, the Catwalk Classic was a coming out for Douglass students, who chose the words, ‘‘A New Beginning,” as their theme.

‘‘We hope the message is that Frederick Douglass is starting over with our fashion and our style,” Smith said.

Students were judged in four categories: theme, modeling technique, clothing design and showmanship. Bonus points were awarded for the students’ grade point average.

Nine schools from Prince George’s County participated in the competition. Central High School in Capitol Heights placed second and Oxon Hill High School placed third.

Short takes of the Catwalk Classic will be shown on Black Entertainment Television’s ‘‘The Black Carpet” today.

Carooq Taylor, an 18-year-old junior at Douglass and a clu8b coordinator, said many at his own school did not think the new club would be able to pull off a win.

‘‘A lot of people were skeptical of how we were going to do, so it will be surprising to hear their reactions,” said Taylor.

Vittoria Jackson, 17, another club coordinator, said preparation for the competition had all but consumed team members’ lives during the past month.

On top of his last minute shopping, Taylor pulled an all-nighter on Friday to help finish preparations, including styling models’ hair. Overall, Taylor said the club spent around $600 on clothes for the competition.

Corin Johnson, 16, a junior at Douglass, said the club and the catwalk provided an outlet for her creativity.

‘‘We are fashion freaks,” Johnson said.

E-mail Andrea Noble at anoble@gazette.net.