Nerves gave way to excitement for 11 seniors in the Textile & Fashion Careers Program at the Carroll County Career & Technology Center Friday as the students modeled unique outfits they worked tirelessly to create at a student-planned fashion show.
A crowd of about 250 watched as the outfits came down the runway, witnessing the dedication and drive of young people passionate about growing their skills in the field of fashion design. Designing and meticulously crafting 12 outfits from start to finish serves as a capstone project of sorts for the seniors, who have been working on the outfits since January of last year, program instructor Catherine Harris said. Students spend anywhere from 8 to 30 hours on each outfit and have been working to finalize designs in 11 categories selected to give students a breadth of experience in fashion design.
“This class was definitely a good class to take — it’s life-changing,” South Carroll High School senior and Sykesville resident Adrianna Ohlman, 18, said. “But I personally think that if you are not heart-set on fashion, you’re not going to enjoy it because it gets difficult. Like, really difficult.”
The show, once an annual event, was held in person for the first time since 2020 at the school, 1229 Washington Road in Westminster. The stage featured an archway adorned with flowers and fairy lights for this year’s student-chosen Garden Party theme. Harris said the career and tech center’s carpentry program also created decorative toadstools to help enhance the garden party theme and food was made by students in the culinary program.
Student modeled some of their handmade outfits, and also created one outfit for a guest model with a different body type and two outfits for children. Harris said she assigned categories to help students develop a variety of skills.
The show began with elaborate and varied outfits from across history, then continued with colorful and fun athletic wear before showcasing the casual chic of stylized everyday fits in the outerwear category. Business outfits, student-designed children’s clothes and a charming array of elaborate character-inspired costumes were also presented before an intermission.
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The show returned with a series of outfits that creatively used recycled items such as broken glass, a tire, wrapping paper, shopping bags, spoons and sticks in out-of-the-box designs. The self-care, wellness and mental illness category saw students get just as creative, artfully crafting themes of empowerment, self-care, body positivity, anxiety and insecurity through the medium of fashion. The show featured guest models and a category of outfits that embody the county Brazil before concluding with a formal wear category.
Outfits came to life in a new way on the runway when models struck poses and engaged with props, reflecting the style and personal flair of each student. Harris said well-executed three-second runway poses were a skill students learned largely from one another in wanting to produce the best show possible.
“I feel like we all grew confidence,” Westminster High School senior and Finksburg resident Ashleigh Becraft, 17, said, “because in this class we work really hard on each of our outfits, so obviously we want to show them off. So when we do get to show them off, it’s a moment of pride and we’re excited.”
Students were in charge of planning, choreographing, marketing, designing the set and selecting the upbeat medley of songs for the fashion show. Roles were assigned to mirror real-world fashion industry experience, and Becraft said she learned about teamwork, professionalism and overcoming differences through the experience.
“I try to give them as many decisions as I possibly can,” Harris said.
Ohlman said it will be weird to not have sewing homework each day after school.
“I can probably speak for the class when I say all of us have been sewing nonstop since the class started to now,” Ohlman said. “So it’s kind of refreshing, finishing our last outfit.”