The du Bois Center Ballroom on NAU south campus was packed Friday, April 8 as the Northern Arizona Merchandising Association (NAMA) welcomed guests to their first in-person spring fashion show since 2019.

Scores of guests lined the stairs and through the first floor of the du Bois Center as they waited to see this year’s fashion show, “Elements at Play.” 

According to the pamphlet that was provided to guests, this year’s fashion show consisted of four collections: Air, earth, water and fire.

Third-year student and NAU Merchandising Club Secretary Julia Rabussay said the modeling, hair and makeup committee chose 30 models out of the 70 who applied to walk in the fashion show.

“If the applicant seemed like they wanted to be there and seemed confident and comfortable walking in front of an audience no matter the size, there was a solid chance they would be accepted,” Rabussay said. 

First-year student and NAMA fashion show model Chiara Holgate said she applied because modeling has been something she has always wanted to do and was out of her comfort zone. 

“[I] also [applied] for representation of my native culture,” Holgate said in an email. “I have never seen any models of my race before and I thought it would be fun to try out.” 

Rabussay said this is the first fashion show that most of the merchandising club committees have worked on since 2019, when the last show took place.

Although there are no classes associated with NAMA, Rabussay encourages those interested in fashion to join the merchandising club — regardless of major. 

“We have people from all different majors in the club,” Rabussay said. “Most of our executive team are fashion merchandising majors but the rest of our club members are pretty diverse.” 

As the show was set to start at 6 p.m., guests began to make their way into the ballroom. Chairs were set to the side of the runway, with front-row seats reserved for VIP guests only. 

According to the NAU events calendar, tickets were free for NAU students and $5 for other guests. VIP tickets were available for the purchase of $10 which included front row seating, a merchandising club T-shirt as well as a gift bag with retailer samples and discounts. 

Second-year student and fashion show attendee Alanda Cortez said she attended to support a friend who was chosen to be a model in the show. 

“I am looking forward to watching what the designers will be bringing to the table regarding their individual senses of style,” Cortez said.

Air and earth were the first collections to be presented; 15 models showcased pieces from local Flagstaff retailers. Floral prints, loose materials and brown cargo pants were just some of the pieces featured in this collection. 

After a 20 minute intermission, allowing the models to change, the water and fire collections were next to be presented by the other 15 models. These pieces included red dress shirts, dresses in shades of blue, all-black attire and bedazzled accessories. 

Holgate said the committee’s decision to assign models to each collection arguably had to do with how they performed on the runway. 

“The committee never specified what led them to decide who would be modeling for specific elements, but I think it was the walks,” Holgate wrote in an email. “As a water and air model, I had more of a softer look and walk whereas fire and earth models were more fierce and strong in their walk.” 

Before the spring fashion show concluded, a special collection was presented consisting of designs made by students involved in NAMA. 

The five student designers showcased pieces they had been working on this year, including a collection by Kelly Crowley made from upcycled material — using unwanted materials and creating new products. 

After the fashion show ended, Cortez said she was impressed by the show as a whole.

“I loved the themes and the unique student design collections,” Cortez said. “Everyone showed confidence in their outfits which was nice to see. It was definitely worth attending.” 

Though the merchandising major will be dissolved starting next semester, NAU Merchandising Club will remain active, Rabussay said. If one wants to find more information about NAMA and the merchandising club, they can reach out on Instagram.

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