It was an afternoon of firsts at the 7th annual "Project Runway: Falcon Edition" fashion show: the first time the event was held at Fairfield Ludlowe High School; the first time that so many seniors modeled on the catwalk -- 80 in all -- and the first time that the show raised more than $7,000.
The audience was larger than ever, too, with advance ticket sales at about 300, plus many walk-ins Sunday, said Debbi O'Keefe, who co-chaired the fashion show with Maria Martucci.
"It started off funding post prom but now has become our largest PTA fundraiser to support school programs," said O'Keefe, the mother of a junior who looks forward to modeling in next year's fashion show. "It's a rite of passage to model," she said.
Only Ludlowe seniors get to don the fashions of local clothing boutiques and strut the catwalk. "I've looked forward to this for four years and couldn't wait to model these clothes for my peers and my family. It's a fun opportunity as a senior to have that privilege," said Amanda Bow, 17.
Classmate Kelsey Tague, 17, injured her left knee in a skiing accident just days before the fashion show, but was determined to participate. "I didn't want to miss out. I can still get out there," said Tague, whose accessories included a knee brace and crutches.
"It's pretty cool to get out in front of all those people," said senior Logan Howard, 17, one of about 20 male models.
Fairfield Ludlowe Headmaster Greg Hatzis served as the emcee of the event. He told the audience that when he went for his tuxedo fitting at Men's Warehouse that they had a "bright ruby red" one waiting for him. "There is no way I can show up in a red and black tux," he told the staff, explaining that red is the color of rival Fairfield Warde High School. He opted for a black tux with a tie of blue, Ludlowe's color.
School faculty and staff got into the act, too.
Dave Schulz, Ludlowe's athletic director, is the only member of the faculty to model in all seven Project Runway fashion shows. He was grateful the event was held at the school this year because it allowed him to run back and forth to his office to get some work done throughout the show.
In yet another first, Schulz said he was dressed differently this year. "I was in casual clothes for the first time. First time not in a tux. Much more comfortable. I'll sign up now for casual wear next year," Schulz said.
The event included performances by Ludlowe musical ensembles Deckhardt Quartet Jazz Band and the Close Harmony a cappella singing group. Refreshments were made and served by Ludlowe culinary arts students.