I arrived back in Atlanta for my fourth year of m0deling in runway shows for Tony Bowls at the Atlanta market, where buyers from stores across the nation come to pick out this coming season’s newest styles to sell in their store. Needless to say, Tony’s gowns were remarkable, classy, and just drop dead gorgeous! This year was a bit different than previous years as Tony was aiming for a sleek look. All our hair was pulled back the same into buns or ponytails and the makeup was centered around simple dark eyes. Double lashes placed by our hair and makeup artist, Joel Green, pushed this edgy look to the top! We were asked to have fun on the runway and let the music inspire us as every other year, but this year Tony wanted to increase the edgy elements in our choreography. So, there was much more still posing at the back of the runway and some not so smiley walking compared to previous years. Additionally, during the line of “Tony Bowls Collection” there was simple violin music that really set the mood for this breathtaking line of pageant and red-carpet gowns! You would have thought you jumped right in NYC fashion week! There is nothing like it when the audience goes wild and cheers for your gown – although it makes it very difficult to keep a straight face. I particularly loved my collared, black, jersey dress with huge crystals around the neckline. It provided a perfect means for getting me into the edgy vibe. The other girls and I even joked that with my straight hair I was wearing during rehearsals, I was able to play up the vampire vibe . Our smiley, approachable, and sometimes dancing on the runway selfs reappeared for other lines that were more geared to the prom girls age group. Showing ever color option of each dress this year and a decreased number of models made for 44 or 45 gowns per model for the 2 hour show. Therefore, the composed walking on the runway and super face jetting into and out of dresses I considered adequate for daily workouts. We had an average of 3 shows per day. I calculated that I walked the runway approximately 720 times that week! Whew!!! But I absolutely love it! I can’t be more honored to work for such a talented designer who knows each model personally. It truly is like a family when I come to work for them. Who would have thought when I first met Tony when he was designing my Miss USA gown that we’d still be so close as we are today? Great crew, great guy, great dresses!
This year working at market was just as fun as any year as I met up with some of my best friends from across the country. I’m starting to learn that except for some close friends from KY, most of my friends are relatively spread out across the nation! Therefore, I love week long jobs such as these to get to see them. The only (major) difference was that my roomie from Miami, Chicago, best friend, and girl I dreamed of “one day modeling in a big city with” wasn’t there due to her foot injury. We all missed Ashley greatly! Nonetheless, two new girls became close friend – Sarah Liz Carter and Liz Cardillo. Additionally, I’m really looking forward to spending time with Liz because she lives in LA! Which by the way… I may be spending some time there soon as I signed with Wilhelmina Models back in May of this year! This news is just now coming out as I’m just now going to have time to devote to working there. Not only that, but Ashley Durham (the roommate I was just speaking of) signed with them as well! She called to give me this good news while we were in Atlanta. I almost screamed!!! These major modeling agencies, only accept a few girls per agency from across the world. Therefore, it is just nothing but “a God thing” that we are both with the same 3 agencies (FORD Models – Chicago, Miami & Wilhemina LA). Especially because no sweet talking or name dropping from either of us was involved when the other signed with the agencies!
Besides that, other good news came in this week – my grad school professor accepted my externship request for this upcoming semester. This is another praise because most externships aren’t allowed to have alternating schedules week by week. However that is exactly what mine needed due to my unpredictable schedule with working for the agencies. You gotta take work as it comes! I have 3 externships I must complete as a student clinician providing speech therapy in 3 different locations to graduate with my Master’s degree. The supervisor at this location in Lexington was wonderful in accepting my idea of submitting my schedule to her on a week to week basis. Lastly, I simply can’t tell you how good it feels to finally be home! It seems that this year has been one short-term move after another for modeling and for school: Miami for 3 months, home shortly, Chicago for a month, vacation for a week, then Bowling Green for my graduate school intership. Regardless,I wouldn’t trade a second of those moves for anything!!! I loved every minute of them and especially living with my best friend in those cities and doing what I love. Additionally, I’m grateful to have got my one and only time that I’m required to be on campus for my Speech-Language Pathology online program complete (my internship in Bowling Green at Western Kentucky University’s Campus in July). From here on out for a while, I will be living in KY. attending my externship for an average of 3 days a week, and just fly out once or twice a week or as needed for jobs! I started my time of living back in KY right with throwing my friend a bachelorette night out with going to a concert and dinner (who is the Miss KY USA I crowned, didn’t know at the time, but became best friends with and later EKU roommates). The concert featuring Rascal Flatts in Louisville, with Eli Young Band and Little Big Town, made this night one to remember forever!
As I was writing this post, I was looking out the window of the airplane to see what the pilot says is Louisville, Kentucky. I consider what it would be like to just stop for a pit stop in my home state after being gone for weeks. However, I can’t do that just yet. I am on my way to Milwaukee for a photo shoot for Bon Ton/Carsons-Scott. Upon seeing the writing on a ‘Carson’s-Scott’ shopping bag, I recognized the name of this clothing store and was honored to be chosen for their catalog shoot. This is the same company I shot the commercial for in Chicago a few weeks ago, (the commercial that required walking the massive Great Dane!). This has been a job FORD Models of Chicago has been trying to work into my schedule for a while now. I’m so excited the day has finally come to do it!
Before arriving to Milwaukee, I spent the last 2 weeks working my very favorite job which is modeling prom/pageant gowns for Tony Bowls. Working for Tony has become not only my favorite job, but a job I have with sentimental attachments to. These feelings exist for more reasons than my believing that this is the type of work I feel I was cut-out to do. It is also a job I love because of the time I’m able to spend with the girls and Tony himself. There is truly no other job like it; we’ve created a family out of the crew. The girls I modeled in Dallas with included Ashley Durham, Ana Rodriquez, (who you may remember from previous posts as I spoke about working with them and their top 5 placements in this year’s Miss USA pageant) and Adriana Nelson (who I’ve also mentioned in prior posts who is Miss Texas 2011 1st Runner-up).
Buyers from across the country came to see what Tony has designed for this year’s prom and pageant season. This market season was different than ever before because I was included in the advertising posters and catalogs posted in the showrooms. I couldn’t help but to smile from ear to ear each time Tony would tell a buyer ‘here’s the gown, and here’s the girl in the gown in the photo.’ It is the one print job out of all I’ve ever done that I’m the most proud of :). Anyway, I am convinced his designs this year are the best I’ve seen him design yet. The best word that I can find to describe them is ‘rich.’ These gowns range from funky dresses that a unique prom girl is sure to chase down, to elegant gowns that could be seen on celebrity red carpets.
The second week we four girls flew together to Atlanta to model at the country’s biggest apparel market. our flight and airport time consisted of constant laughter, fun in an Elvis store during a layover in Memphis, and many yawns as well. The Atlanta market varies from most others because it consists of numerous runway shows opposed to only showroom modeling. We started our stay with a rehearsal day where we were designated dresses and our runway show is choreographed. One thing that amazes me about Tony is his humble attitude. For example, it was he himself that picked the order of dresses for the girls, chose the music, and choreographed the walks/turns. After rehearsals, we decided to go to our annual favorite eating spot: Café Metro Diner. This is the home of our ever famous karaoke nights. Before our Atlanta stay was complete, we visited the diner for a second time to sing ‘Scrubs’ and also to help some Miss Teen USA girls who were also modeling at the market sing ‘WannaBe’ by Spice Girls. Watching the younger girls sing made all of us older girls feel just that, OLD; they barely knew the words of the song! I suppose the Spice Girls were our generation and they are probably now considered ‘oldies’ to those girls!
We started the week by a special runway show called ‘Top 10.’ This show is different than the others because the show includes designs from more than one designer, all of which are included in the ‘Top 10 Prom’ book. The show is performed in a large ballroom and the excitement was up to the roof with spotlights and loud music. Although each model only had one dress to model for her assigned designer, it was truly one of the most adrenaline filled runway shows I’ve ever modeled in. It was a surprise to see Carol from Carol’s bridal back home in Danville sitting in the crowd. I proudly take some credit for her now carrying Tony’s gowns since she didn’t until I introduced them to each other :). Tony walked away from the show named the ‘Legendary Designer of the Year’ as voted upon by buyers. Having buyers elect a designer for a such an award is extremely prestigious. I’m not surprised he was selected, not only because of his breath-taking gowns, but because he has just as great of a personality as he has great designing skills.
The rest of the week included about 3 shows a day located in Tony’s showroom upstairs in the market. By the end of the week, we had completed 17 fashion shows! These shows aren’t your typical shows with one or two dresses that only last 20 minutes total. The shows averaged about an hour and a half long each with each model having 28-30 dresses. And yes, backstage is just like runway shows that are shown on TV. We walk calmly on stage (and we’re allowed to smile:)), and then we hurry backstage as we fight any problems that occur when changing gowns. Some of the problems we had included the instance when the zipper of one of my dresses got stuck and wouldn’t zip up. However, because the emcee will be calling out the code number of my gown in a numerical order, I have to be back and ready to go in only a matter of seconds. This is when quick fixes are necessary. In this instance, we pinned the back with what pins and I held the rest. You simply can’t let problems like impact the show. We had a very special last runway show in which we were allowed to all model barefoot. This usually would be what I prefer to prevent the shoes from rubbing on my blisters and etc. However, Tony is designing shoes this year that truly are great and actually pretty comfortable! So, we just carried them in our hands as we walked. The shoes and jewelry Tony is now designing are the forecast of prom/pageant fashions because they are a little more edgy than your typical pageant or prom shoes/jewelry. They will definitely be the new trend for the trendy prom girl. Wearing them prevented me of having blisters and scars in the first place. You can find them under ‘Frederico Leone’s', which is one of the most reliable pageant/prom shoes available. I’ve worn them since I was 15!
There were also additional problems at this year’s market which we usually don’t run into. It started out with Ashley being in a removable cast due to a stress fracture. However, she is your 1strunner-up to Miss USA 2011… she is a trooper! She even had the fracture during her stage performance at Miss USA! She decided doing Tony’s shows were worth the pain. She is a prime example of an extremely hard worker who’s very dedicated. She just kept swinging off her cast-boot and throwing on the 5 inch heels to rock the runway. Another one of our models twisted her ankle on the runway after slipping near the edge. Our injuries increased even further when Kristen Motil, (who represented Tennessee the same year I represented KY at Miss USA), fell on a turn and sprung her arm when she went to catch herself. Due to our endless amount of humor we have when we’re mixed together, we laughed at these catastrophes until tears were in our eyes. We couldn’t stop laughing until we realized that the girls who were hurt may seriously be hurt, (although we still laugh when looking back at the initial event. And just to note, the victims of the accidents still laugh too.. before they move too much and feel the pain!!)
These falls sound tragic and a reason for a designer to be very upset, but that’s just not the way Tony works. He was more concerned that we were ok than anything. Additionally, in this show we are allowed and actually encouraged to not only laugh on stage, but dance a bit to the music, clap with the audience, or whatever it takes to keep the energy high. At one time I even thought the audience was getting excited over a gorgeous Grecian inspired white gown I was modeling until I turned around and saw they were actually clapping for a lady who decided to jump on stage with us! Ha! Things such as that aren’t far out of the ordinary. The action to the side of the runway was exciting as well! I was able to see girls come in to meet Tony and ask him shyly for if he’d take a photo with them. It’s always precious to watch their reactions, and I’m completely guilty of feeling the same way upon 1st meeting him. In addition, many girls were getting him to design their pageant gowns. How that brings back many memories to the same situation I was in when I first met Tony!
The 2 markets completed so far were very successful for Tony Bowls with him receiving his best sales record yet. The models and I like to take credit for being told by numerous buyers each year that we have the best runway show at market. However, we know this is truly due to working for a company that encourages us to have fun. Buyers say that it’s our genuine smiles on stage and energy that really further help the dresses sale. However, we wouldn’t be having that fun working for someone strict. This success is no surprise after the excitement Tony has had over the past year. Just last week while we were in Atlanta, word was delivered that Donald Trump chose one designer to be featured at the opening events of his new hotel in Hawaii, and guess who he chose! Although Tony said he’d never been to Hawaii, he decided to stay in Atlanta with us opposed to going to the event. If that doesn’t show a man of character, I don’t know what does! Also, Vanna White of Wheel of Fortune often wears Tony Bowls gowns. Just a few days ago, during a special episode, she again chose one of Tony’s gowns to wear. As you may have seen from my excited Twitter tweets, Lauren Alaina (one of the final 2 on this year’s American Idol) wore Tony’s designs multiple times along with American Idol singer Pia Toscano during this year’s America Idol Top 10 Tour.
The only thing I have next is to go home and gain some much needed R&R! I can’t wait to get home Friday! I have the urge to cook and spend time with my puppy Calipari. Hopefully the visit home will be refreshing because I may be turning right back around to head back out to Orlando, Fl. for a photo shoot for Pageantry Magazine. I just got the call a few moments ago from Carl. What an honor! I really hope to get it worked into next week’s schedule! Pageant magazine is one of the most prestigious coverages of everything pageants and more!