Models take off from mall runway

August 08, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

HALFWAY -- Onlookers Saturday afternoon at Valley Mall's annual fashion show saw teen and tween models showing off fall's back-to-school fashions.

What they didn't see were the hours that went into preparing the girls for the show -- not just teaching them how to turn at the end of the runway, but also about proper nutrition, skin care and confidence.

Latoyia De Hostos encouraged her daughter to apply for the mall's Style Squad program, in which girls participate in a weeklong camp then model in two fashion shows, because her own mother got her into modeling when she was 8.

"It builds confidence and self-esteem. That's what I wanted for my daughter," De Hostos said.

Her daughter, Cecilia Markland, excitedly talked about the outfits she modeled Saturday during her first runway experience. For her first outfit, she wore a T-shirt bearing a peace sign and a pair of skinny jeans.


Cecilia really likes fashion and modeling, she said, and hopes to start working with a modeling agency someday, she said. The 11-year-old is 5 feet 5 inches tall, taller than her mother was at her age.

De Hostos, who is in beauty school to get her license, did Cecilia's hair and makeup for Saturday's show, the girl said. De Hostos modeled for several years, and she thought Saturday's show was excellent. The girls were well-behaved, everything ran smoothly, and they had fun and looked fabulous, she said.

"Our goal with teens and tweens is to build the confidence of participants," said Vicki Tamburo of Dress to Impress, which was hired by Valley Mall to run the fashion show and camp.

"Not everyone can be a model, but everyone can develop model skills," Tamburo said. Teaching girls self-confidence is the most important part of the program, she said.

About 30 models took part in Saturday's show, she said.

With cooperation from stores within the mall, the models showed off fashions Tamburo's company identified as fall's big trends: skinny jeans, distressed jeans, preppy looks including plaid, and retro fashion, including peace signs, tie-dye and fringe.

Sara Smith, 11, likes pulling together fashions and getting her picture taken, she said. She was nervous before the show, but once she got on stage, her nerves went away, Sara said.

On Saturday, she modeled a plaid Gap miniskirt paired with a cropped jacket and T-shirt with "Think Happy Thoughts" emblazoned on it.

Alexandra Werder, 12, participated in the mall's fashion shows before. This year, her younger sister, 8-year-old Ariana Werder, also modeled. She wants to be a singer and fashion designer someday, she said.

"It gives her a sense of being comfortable with herself," said the girls' grandmother, Lynda Miedema.

Alexandra grew a lot during the fashion camp, finding enough confidence to even sing for the group, said her mother, Maria Werder.

Video and photographs from the fall fashion show will be available on the Valley Mall's Facebook page. For more information about Dress to Impress, visit

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