'#ThisIsAmerica' fashion show puts diversity first

Creative director Sydney Rosee: “Part of the fashion show is to promote unity and diversity and to showcase Muse Clothing in a different way.”

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Four people are working to bring a fashion show with diversity at its center to downtown Columbia on April 28.

The #ThisIsAmerica fashion show, borne from an idea by creative director Sydney Rosee, will be a fashion show that aims to celebrate all races, religions, sexual orientations and nationalities.

“Part of the fashion show is to promote unity and diversity and to showcase Muse Clothing in a different way,” Rosee said.

Chosen talent for the show will receive credit for items at Muse, where the show will take place, according to a flyer about the show. Muse owner Nickie Davis has held over 20 fashion shows before and is helping to put this show on as well, she said.

“I want to promote diversity in a different way, with high fashion,” Rosee said.

From Feb. 22-24, those interested in being part of the show came to Muse for the casting call. Day one was for models, day two was for fashion designers and other models, and day three was for visual artists.

“I’ve been scouting models to come to the casting call,” talent coordinator and MU senior Ayana Hubbard said. We’re going out of our way to find unconventional looks.”

During casting, model hopefuls were instructed to come in black clothing with high heels. Each person got a chance to walk twice in case they didn’t like their walk the first time. Over the evening and the whole casting call, many people came and went to show their skills. Multiple models who came were people Hubbard had scouted or pulled from the street, she said.

When fashion designers came on Feb. 23, they brought a portfolio or sample of their work and did a presentation for Rosee and Davis while the other showrunners coordinated other model walks.

There are currently 20 models, two fashion designers and five visual artists, Rosee said in an email.

“Other than bringing in new people [to the store], we want to rep our beliefs to the community,” Davis said. “This is a good way to make people aware of our store, and that we’re open and welcome to all.”

Rosee is working on the show with Davis, Hubbard and show producer Orlando Lewis. Most of them were there during all days of casting to help models sign in and get ready to walk or to watch and evaluate the hopeful talent.

The show’s focus is to draw in a large pool of styles and not choose models based on conventional looks. This allows for those with less modeling experience to try out. Experience or no, confidence is key for models when they’re walking.

“[Modeling] has a lot to do with individuality, uniqueness, confidence and people who are not afraid to show who [they] are,” Rosee said.

Rosee, a student at Stephens College, is a freelance photographer and the creative director for Muse. Working there gave her a way to make this show a reality. She also wants to bring a new style to Columbia and give people options for different fashion choices.

“I like odd clothing,” Rosee said. “There are people here who will buy those clothes; there’s just nowhere to buy them.”

Lewis, an MU parks, recreation and tourism student who has previous experience managing and producing other events, hopes to showcase as many talented people as he can during the show.

“I got involved in the show by sharing a similar vision with show creator Sydney [Rosee],” Lewis said in an email. “One night we were discussing events and decided to work together on our next event, and it just so happened to be the fashion show.”

In addition to bringing diversity awareness to the community, Lewis also looks forward to working with the talented people involved with the show.

“I want [working on] this show to give me valuable experience that I can expand on in the future,” Lewis said in an email. “I want to bring more people to Muse and incorporate as many ethnicities in the show as I possibly can. Overall, I want this show to be successful in the sense that people enjoy the show and come back in the future.”

Hubbard, an MU psychology student, has modeling experience and signed with an agency when she was young, she said.

“I feel like growing up in the model world, I was always being told to be a certain size [or have] a certain look,” Hubbard said. “I had so many disclaimers attached to what was being beautiful.”

Hubbard and Rosee knew each other prior to working on the show, and Hubbard was immediately interested in being part of the show when she found out about the inclusive theme.

“I want to be able to create a space for others so they don’t go through what I did,” Hubbard said. “The industry is rough.”

ThisIsAmerica will take place at Muse Clothing at 8 p.m. April 28.

“I want it to [have] good vibes,” Rosee said. “No matter how many people come out, it will be a good show.”

Edited by Katherine White | kwhite@themaneater.com

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