The seventh annual Harker Fashion Show in February was another glamorous spectacle that put on fantastic display the many parts of the greater whole that is Harker. Titled “Outside the Box: Chic and Unique,” this year’s sold-out event was a celebration of Harker’s uniqueness as a school, creatively highlighting the various academic programs and activities in which its students are involved.
“I feel complete,” said fashion show co-chair Christine Davis, whose son, Cole, graduates this year. This year’s fashion show, witnessed by nearly 1,300 people, was her last as a co-chair. “It’s bittersweet, but it’s mostly sweet,” she later added.
Davis partnered with co-chair Marcia Riedel (Randall, Gr. 9; Hunter, Gr. 6) and a team of liaisons led by Sue Prutton, director of upper school volunteer programs, to put together the massive event. Davis and Riedel founded the fashion show more than seven years ago, when they first came up with the idea during a game of tennis. Since then, it has evolved into one of the school’s largest and most elaborate fundraisers.
The impressive design and execution of the show was largely the work of K-Gr. 12 performing arts director Laura Lang-Ree, who directed nearly every detail of the show as it happened, including video screen slides, skits, lighting and musical cues. Meanwhile, producer Beverly Zeiss and her team directed fashion choices, model choreography and backstage management.
“The fashion show has always been a tremendous fundraising event for the school, but in addition to that it gives us an opportunity to show the world what we can do,” Prutton said. “Our emphasis on telling the Harker story in the past three fashion shows has proven to be incredibly popular.”
Funds raised by the event are put toward scholarships for qualified students needing financial aid and to the Capital Campaign, which provides students with the ideal facilities to maximize their Harker experience. The final total of funds raised by the fashion show will be announced on Harker News Online in late March.
Each portion of the runway show was themed after a different department or program, including performing arts, science, athletics and community service. A total of 92 students, parents, faculty and staff strutted down the runway dressed in ensembles from fashion sponsors Macy’s and Eli Thomas. A special segment of the show featured Earth-friendly fashions by Priya Bhikha, Gr. 12, who assembled short and long gowns using recyclable materials such as duct tape, candy wrappers and water bottle labels.
[quote]Some amusing surprises were in store as well, such as the opening routine by a professional circus performer who handled a large metal cube and twirled his way effortlessly through a series of complex and visually striking maneuvers. Later, the robotics team wheeled out one of their creations onto the runway during a highly entertaining sequence. Not to be outdone, the Harker forensics team put on mock debate to decide whether Harker was more “chic” or “unique.”
The show also had exciting performances by the Varsity Dance Troupe, directed by Laura Rae, Dance Fusion, a Gr. 4-6 group directed by Gail Palmer, and the upper school’s Downbeat, co-directed by Catherine Snider and Lang-Ree. Meanwhile, the Harker Jazz Band and Chamber Ensemble, directed by Chris Florio, treated the attendees to some pre-show entertainment, bringing the total number of performers to 85.
The fashion show took place in two phases, a luncheon during the middle of the day and a dinner event in the evening. The evening portion of the show featured dancing and the ever-popular live auction, which sold everything from a helicopter ride above Silicon Valley to a night at the Emmy awards to an American Kennel Club-certified black Labrador puppy. Dennis Baldwin Interiors, Concierge Du Cuisine, Chelsea Court Designs, Omesha Eternal Elegance, Inc. and Miller Design Company designed this year’s showcases, which were won in drawings at the luncheon and evening shows.
Students who participated as models said the fashion show presented an opportunity to get involved in a fun and exciting way.
“I just like hanging out with my friends and doing this,” said model Danielle Buis, Gr. 12. “It was just cool to see how we come together as a community.”
Veronica Hsieh, Gr. 12, also served as a model in her freshman year and said she enjoyed being a part of the show “because the entire school’s involved. It’s fun to all be part of the Harker community, to see all ages.”
Nearly 200 students took an active and highly important role in this year’s event, modeling on the runway, greeting attendees, acting as hosts and hostesses and performing in one of the performing arts groups.
After the show, Riedel reflected on how the event had grown since its inception. “I really enjoyed the way that having this event has just brought Harker so much more outside of the Harker community,” she said. “I have people walking up to me and saying, ‘I wish I knew about Harker before this so my kids could go there,’ or, ‘This is where my kids are going to go to school.’”
This year, 92 committee members, all of them parents, came together to make sure the fashion show lived up to the reputation it has established. Whether they are securing sponsors, selling tickets or decorating the interiors, parent involvement is and has always been a crucial part of ensuring the event meets an increasingly high standard. Each aspect of the fashion show had a different parent committee chair to manage the many parts of the event that make it such a memorable experience. They were: Sangeeta Balram, Shyamoli Banerjee, Debbie Buss, Barb Chappell, Mariko Creasman, Barbara Drummer, Ram Duraiswamy, Susan Ellenberg, Minoo Gupta, Debbie Hutchings, Lana Kipnis, Lalitha Kumar, Betsy Lindars, Maria Lu, Mary Malysz, Michelle Maxey, Noela Nakos, Tina Najibi, Naren Nayak, Leslie Nielsen, Archana Sathaye, Ingrid Semenza, Shankari Sundar, Sathya Thyagaraj and Heather Wardenburg.
Tina Najibi (Alexander, Gr. 10; Mary, Gr. 6) has been involved with the fashion show since its founding and served as model coordinator for this year’s event. She said the schoolwide nature of the fashion show makes it a great event for parents to network. “When my kids were in lower school and middle school, I met upper school parents, and I got hints on what kinds of clubs to join, what kinds of things to do, that I would not have gotten had I not volunteered for the fashion show,” she said.
After the fashion show, Chris Nikoloff, head of school, thanked all involved for their months of hard work: “Sitting in the audience, as the Harker story unfolded before us throughout the evening, I was overcome with gratitude for the unique community we all share and help to create.”