Fashion program returns, ‘better than ever’


Carys Brightwell

After months of sketching and planning, junior Josephine Anderson pins her garment to a mannequin for her designs for the upcoming fashion show. This is her first time as a designer and she is looking forward to the show in May. Lots of work is done throughout the year before the final show.

Abby Ippen

Last year’s fashion show was one to remember, but this year, with no Covid-19 restrictions, the program is back better than ever and looking to make this year’s show even more memorable. 

Fashion teacher Valerie Williams has been teaching for 10 years but has only experienced eight shows. Despite Covid-19 restrictions last year, Williams thinks the show result was remarkable. 

“I was amazed that clothes got on the runway,” Williams said. “Truthfully, students had to squeeze two years of learning into one year; so, things they should have learned the previous year, they came in, learned it all first semester and then created clothing.”

Junior Lyla Gerretzen, a third-year fashion student, never experienced a normal show. 

“I think the fashion show has been a little rocky due to the past few years of school being online and students not being able to learn the stuff they normally do, but this year I think everyone is feeling a little more relaxed,” Gerretzen said. “I think a goal for the fashion program is to just get back to the usual flow of things and have a less chaotic year overall.”

This year, however, with more advanced designers and opportunities, the fashion design class and Zujz Society [Fashion Club] want to do more. The garments being displayed in the 2023 show are inspired by the Regency Era. 

“It is going to be amazing this year,” Williams said. “I usually have junior designers and senior designers; there also is going to be a segment for my costume students because I want to showcase their work. As usual, the Fashion Club will open the show, and I have some other little surprises.”

Fashion design students are excited to have a year free of most restrictions that will allow them to showcase their work. 

Senior Annamaria Holston has only been in the fashion program for two years after transferring and said she has goals for the upcoming year. 

“I want to actually finish my two projects [1810’s inspired trench coat and court gown] for the fashion show,” Holston said. “I’ve never been involved in one so far.”

Williams is also ready for the approaching year and has set goals for the program as well as the fashion show.  

“My main goals are for the show to feel joyful and celebratory,” Williams said. “I also think the quality of the clothing the students make and the designs will be a little more expressive and free because they are coming in with the skills they had last year.”

The fashion program not only gives students the opportunity to apply their artistic abilities for the school, but it inspires students to pursue fashion after they graduate. 

“My goal is to go into costume and set design in theater in the future, and I’d say the fashion program is definitely helping with experience for that,” Holston said. 

Gerretzen agrees, and even though her original inspiration to join the fashion program came from her sister, the program is what has her considering pursuing fashion. 

“Even if I don’t end up doing something relating to fashion, it wouldn’t even be something that would’ve crossed my mind if it wasn’t for the fashion program at Midtown,” Gerretzen said.  “This program opens a lot of opportunities and has helped to broaden my mind to the possibilities after high school.”

Even though the program inspires many students to pursue fashion, Williams does not push her students to join the fashion industry. 

“Three or four of the students from last year are going into fashion, and if they aren’t going into fashion, they are doing something fashion-adjacent,” Williams said. “I never push students to be designers;it’s hard work;I encourage them to take their skillset and apply it in their lives where it works well for them.” 

What makes the program special to Williams and Gerretzen is how it inspires students to use their creativity in a new environment and gives them the room to express themselves. 

“My favorite thing about the fashion program at Midtown is how much everyone is able to express themselves in their work,” Gerretzen said. “Ms. Williams gives us so much freedom and has such a passion for seeing her students be successful, which is one of the things that makes this program so meaningful.”