The opening scene of "Fashion Defined" can only be likened to an elegant procession of a high priestess and two of her attendants.
Set to the sounds of Beyonce's "That's Why You're Beautiful," second-year broadcast journalism student Nickira Anderson, flanked by two other models, embodied the theme played out in the rest of the production: beauty.
"I just think the meaning is there's something beautiful in everyone," Anderson said. "Whether it be long hair or whatever — like I think my long hair is beautiful — it's really about your own beauty. I think one of the challenges in life is finding what's beautiful about you."
"Fashion Defined: The Definition of Beauty" is the theme of 2011's Association of African American Students' annual fall fashion show. Starting in the Russell House Ballroom at 7 p.m. today with doors opening at 6 p.m., the show is set to be a bit more than straight runway. Clothing is provided by a few local partners as well as the models themselves.
"We can put on a show that's basic," said Richard Sims, one of the show choreographers at a practice Monday. "We could play instrumental songs for every scene and put you in fall, winter, spring and summer clothes and just walk, but this is bigger than that."
By bigger than that, Sims was referring to more than the runway synchronization and effortless choreography he'd been drilling the models on since September. He was instead referring to fourth-year business student Bryant White's meaning for the show.
"I come across a lot of negativity every day, and that coupled with my faith, my Christianity, I realize that it's not OK to be negative," said White, the director for this year's show.
White's vision for the show is to portray the idea that every aspect of life, including the negative, is beautiful. For some of the models, a "conscious" fashion show proves beneficial.
"[White] brought something more than it just being about fashion: He made it have a purpose," said third-year pre-pharmacy student Morgan Isreal, who has walked the show since her freshman year. "To make it have a meaning behind it makes it more purposeful because you have to get people to understand the meaning."
For other models, like third-year biology student Albreyanna McKelvey and first-year student Tony Graham, it was about the atmosphere and feeling of community.
"I tried it my freshman year, and it's such a warm and friendly environment, and you meet a lot of people and have lasting friendships," McKelvey said.
Anderson echoed this sentiment saying that though she is a transfer student, throughout the rehearsals of the show she'd come to know everyone involved. The show features more than 48 students.