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Flaunting fashion and attitude

Young models strut their stuff on the runway and give back to the community

Posted: August 2, 2009 10:18 p.m.
Updated: August 3, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Modelling student Gabriella Wheeler, 12, of Acton, from the Santa Clarita School of Performing Arts, strikes a pose at a Saturday fashion show which benefitted the SCV Food Pantry. Attendees could attend the fashion show by bringing a non-perishable food item for the Food Pantry.

"Hot," "sexy" and "fierce" - those were the words repeating through David Stratten's mind as he strutted down the runway to the music's beat.

"That's what our runway teacher tells us to think - it helps you show it in your attitude," said Stratten, a 16-year old Valencia resident who is pursuing a professional modeling career.

Stratten was one of many male and female modeling students - ages 4 to 26 - from the Santa Clarita School of Performing Arts who presented new clothing lines from designers like FiFi Leroux to a crowd of picture-snapping parents and friends in Newhall on Saturday.

Jose and Laura Lopez, the school's modeling instructors, watched proudly as their students hit their poses on the runway.

"They're pretty much like our babies. They come up and do what you tell them to do, and it comes to life," Laura Lopez said.

Event coordinator Lynn Walker said the fashion show is not only an opportunity for modeling students to experience a real runway show, but it also allows the School of Performing Arts to give back to the community.

Those in attendance were asked to bring a nonperishable food item for the SCV Food Pantry as a ticket to the show.

"When we do fashion shows, we bring in a fundraiser," said Walker, also an office manager for the school, which is owned by Mike Josten.

Walker said she read an article about an increased demand on the Food Pantry to feed local families because of the economy's impact.

"It's not about showing clothes; it's about what the purpose is for," said Laura Lopez. "That's what makes you do it 10 times better."

Model Clarissa Butler said the runway experience is "a rush," and knowing she is contributing to a charity motivates her even more.
"It helps a lot knowing that it helps out," said Butler, 16, of the Antelope Valley. "That's why I work harder."

During the 24 hours prior to the show, the models and coordinators worked to transform Dr. Alan Barbakow's Western-style orthodontist office waiting room into a showroom.

Come show time, colorful drapes flowed above the audience and white lights outlined a black, circular runway.

Models spent their last few minutes perfecting their makeup and hair-spraying their dos in the midst of orthodontist chairs.

By the show's start, several barrels were filled with non-perishable food items for the Food Pantry from the show's 100-plus attendees.

One mother said the donations show what kind of a man the school's owner, Josten, is.

"Other shows I've been to, I've had to pay. He could easily charge $5 and he didn't," said Lisa Weldon of Valencia.

"You get entertainment and you get to donate."


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