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University students strut their stuff at Fashion and Design Club show

As the minute hand on the clock ticked closer to the hour, an anticipatory hush fell over the crowd. A few extravagantly dressed stragglers wearing gaudy jewelry and feather boas strode in at the last minute, squeezing past the models and designers hovering in the hall outside.

On Friday, a little before 8 p.m., Tuttle Coffee House filled to the brim with eager fashion connoisseurs. The University's Fashion Design Club held its successful fall show in the cafè on Alderman Road, attracting enough people to make the fire marshall a little nervous.

The techno music started playing and a model emerged, her outfit described by an announcer as she strode past the crowd gathered on either side of the makeshift runway. Step, step, step, a careful swivel, a dramatic pose, and the first model exited, leaving room for the next to start her trip down the catwalk. As the evening progressed, more outfits, courtesy of five different student designers, were displayed on the runway.

Some were risquè, including provocative cutouts, tight tube tops, and slinky eveningwear. Others were more like what you might see at any party on Rugby of 14th Street or JPA.

Unlike professional shows, the models in Friday night's show were not world-weary travelers charging an arm and a leg for their perfect bodies, but adventurous University students having fun, and this lighthearted atmosphere lent a playfulness to the show.

"My friend is Sole, the designer, and she asked me about [modeling] at the beginning of the semester," said third-year Engineering student Thad Hughes.

Second-year College student Kit Gramlich also modeled in the show. "Sole was my hallmate last year, and I was in last year's show, so she called me and asked me to model again. It was even more fun the second time, because I was less nervous. I have a lot of respect for professional models - It's a lot harder than it looks!" Gramlich said.

Some students may have been surprised at the alteration their fellow students underwent. The makeup and hair for the show, done by Mike Maszaros and CLINIQUE's Cassandra, transformed everyday students into convincing models.

Nicole Roberts, a senior from Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, who was visiting the University for the weekend, described the night: "The room was hot, the models were hot and the clothes were hot."

The Fashion Design Club is a new addition to the University, having become a Contracted Independent Organization just this summer. Lauren Fritsch, the operations director for the club, said it all began when she met the club's future artistic director, Sole Salvo, in a class.

"Sole and I met last year in English Lit. Our teacher asked us what we wanted to do for a living, and we discovered that we were both interested in fashion," Fritsch said.

While reminiscing about their beginnings, Salvo and Fritsch, dressed in black ball gowns, waved to the models and fellow designers who were walking around after the show.

Audience members had a variety of reasons for coming. First-year Engineering student Jesse Garris said he didn't expect to enjoy the show as much as he did.

"Some friends dragged me along because I had nothing do, but I was surprised at how talented the designers were, and impressed by the way that they put the fabrics together, especially with no kind of fashion-design program at U.Va.," Garris said.

Some came to the show hoping to buy an original work of clothing at the auction after the show. First-year College student Karen Alladin had her eye on a few pieces by Sole Salvo.

"I really like them, and if she becomes famous, I'd love to be able to say I own some of her early work," Alladin said.

She and others said they were slightly disappointed some of their favorite articles of clothing weren't auctioned Friday night, but they'll have more opportunities to purchase in the spring. The club will be holding its spring show on April 12 in the Newcomb Hall Ballroom.

As the crowd dispersed, leaving only a few models and potential buyers, Tuttle began to look more like it usually does, and the illusion of Paris faded, leaving only exhilarated students in place of the models.


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