This story was originally published in the Spring 2012 issue of Harker Quarterly
Fashions may trend, but celebrating special moments with friends, family and as a community will never go out of style.
More than 1,000 guests who attended The Harker School’s recent fashion show had the rare opportunity both to unite for a good cause and catch a glimpse of the latest in runway fashion trends. The hottest looks by top designers were seen walking a catwalk not in Paris, Milan or even New York – but on a stage much closer to home.
Held at the bustling downtown San Jose Convention Center, the fashion show wowed its audience, living up to its nine-year-old reputation as a fun, profitable fundraiser. Appreciative guests filled both lunch and dinner gatherings, which were open to the public. The theme of the event, which raised funds and awareness for the school, was Celebrate! … K through Life! Money raised will go a long way towards aiding Harker’s scholarship and other funds.
The theme was carried through in celebrations of inner and outer beauty, illustrated with moving videos and breathtaking runway fashions. The videos shared the stories of the students themselves and the bonds they had formed with their close-knit community of teachers and peers. Fashions representing a range of top designers were expertly modeled by both students, teachers and parents alike.
Even before the doors officially opened, guests were entertained by perusing the variety of auction items on display outside the main ballroom. This year’s live auction included temptations such as a one-week stay at a luxury Costa Rican estate, a private dinner with the head of school, and a food and wine pairing party for 12 people.
Also on hand to provide ambience and drum up pre-show excitement were student chamber ensembles, playing in the outside hall. Some attendees spilled out to the adjoining patio to catch up with friends from the Harker community and enjoy the glorious weather. Others had their pictures taken with various props at a photo booth, run by volunteer students Crystal Chen and Mark Taboada, called “Celebrate Your Inner Fashionista.”
“We are first-time volunteers,” said the duo, both seniors, noting that they have the ambitious goal of wanting to attend every school event at least once before graduating.
Standing nearby was Rohan Arora, grade 4, who came out in support of his sister Riya, grade 2 and one of the fashion show’s models. Clad in a smart suit and tie to show his support of both the school and his sister, he said it is his first year attending, but now he wants to come every year.
Once invited inside, guests couldn’t help but admire the beautifully decorated ballroom, complete with floral centerpieces held in place by a bow-tied box designed to look like a present. In further keeping with the theme of celebrating special occasions was a box of toy noisemakers so the audience could cheer on the models.
As guests were taking their seats, the Harker Jazz Band, directed by Chris Florio, played. Then Varsity Dance Troupe took to the stage in a choreographed, energetic opener to formally open the show, performing in black pants, gold tops and black sequined jackets, their hair held up in sophisticated twists.
Chris Nikoloff, head of school, welcomed guests, noting that he had just enjoyed a personal celebration of his own – the birth of his third child. He later introduced Revanth Kosaraju, grade 12, the upper school’s student body president. Nikoloff joked that he might as well “hand over my keys to the office to Revanth,” calling Kosaraju an all-around amazing school representative. Taking the microphone, Kosaraju then thanked the fashion show donors, reading a moving quote from a student who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to attend Harker, had he not benefited from a financial aid scholarship.
The music and visuals which accompanied the models were all the brainchild of Laura Lang-Ree, the show’s director and chair of the performing arts department. The music was a mix of top-pop hits matching each themed model session. Clothes were graciously provided by designers Ken Chen, Eli Thomas for Men, Tommy Bahama, Old Navy, Oakley, Spazio and more. The Chen segment was especially exciting, as the couture designer dressed Harker’s models in some of the clothes he had just shown in New York at the premiere of his fall 2012 collection.
The modeling sessions moved effortlessly from young children who would have looked adorable even without the added benefit of gorgeous clothes, to adults who ruled the runway for the segment “A Job Well Done.” Props this year for the students were fun and playful, including skateboards, scooters and jump ropes. Adult props included briefcases, cell phones and Starbucks coffee cups. As if that weren’t enough excitement, Dance Fusion and Downbeat provided memorable musical numbers in between modeling segments.
For the grand finale, festive, multicolored confetti was shot high above the stage and everyone walked down the catwalk one last time, driving home the fact that this year’s fashion show – while honoring celebrations – was truly a grand celebration in and of itself.
In closing, Sue Prutton, fashion show liaison and upper school volunteer director, urged attendees to cherish memories of both their personal, family and communal school celebrations.
Net proceeds from Celebrate!, which are still being totaled at press time, go to provide financial assistance to students who would otherwise be unable to benefit from a Harker education, fund the construction of the new gym and performing arts center, and support the mission to purchase a third campus.