The ZJUZ Society
Sewing machines, mannequins and shear scissors are all things that members of the ZJUZ Society will learn how to use this year.
The ZJUZ Society is Midtown’s very own fashion club, sponsored by costume design teacher Valerie Williams. The club designs the opening looks for the annual spring fashion show.
“ZJUZ Society is a fashion club that operates collectively,” Williams said. “We create a project together, we design it together and we present it to open the fashion show each year. It’s set up so that anybody can join whether they have skills or not. We create a project that everyone can participate in.”
Club members are taught the basics of fashion design, including how to create a piece from beginning to end. This is especially helpful for members with limited fashion experience.
“The club is like a crash course of what it would be like to be in the fashion program,” Williams said. “Students who are in ninth grade that can’t get in get a little taste of it, students that maybe want a model versus being in the program, they get to see the process that’s involved.”
Members aren’t required to be in a fashion design or art class to join the club. This allows students, like sophomore Ryan Carter, who aren’t in an art pathway to participate in fashion related activities.
“I think it’s really great, especially for me, that you don’t have to be in the art pathway to be in the club because I don’t take any classes relating to fashion or art so it gives me an outlet to express my interest in fashion,” Carter said.
The annual fashion show allows for the work done by the ZJUZ Society to be shown.
“I think [the fashion show] does shine a lot of light on the work being done,” Williams said. “I think the fact that students can go from a sketch to a fully realized garment on the runway is a big deal. Most high school kids can’t sew and make patterns or fashion sketch. So, it’s a great accomplishment for them.”
Junior Addie Halloran agreed with Williams.
“The fashion show allows the students to express what they’ve been working on all year so it sheds light very well,” Halloran said. “I think without it, the work might go unnoticed, which isn’t good considering all the time we would put in.”
Williams said it’s important for members to see their work come to life on the stage in order to sustain their interest in fashion.
“Once you see something you produce fully finished, it gives you a hunger to want to do it more,” Williams said. “For example, when you win in a sport, you want to win more, so when you produce something, it makes you want to do it again or do it better next time or try again if you weren’t successful.”
The fashion show has been cancelled the past two years due to Covid-19. Williams is hoping the show will happen this year and the club’s hard work will be displayed.
“With everything going on with Covid, I’m having to teach more skill sets than I normally do because the kids are with me,” Williams said. “I just hope that it happens and they get to showcase their work and that they’re proud to see what they produced on the runway.”
Each year, Williams decides on a central idea for the project and allows everyone to present their designs for it. Then, as a whole, the club creates the project.
“I select a project for the whole year,” Williams said. “We’ve done bags, we’ve done corsets, we’ve done 1950s dresses inspired by Audrey Hepburn. What happens is I introduce what we’re doing, and everybody does a variation of it. So, again, we design and create individually, but we present as a collective under one broad thing.”
The ZJUZ Society fashion club’s main goal is to spread interest and excitement about fashion.
“I’m super excited about everything, especially the fashion show at the end of the year,” junior Anna Dicarlo said.