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Strutting at Springfield Mall

Classrooms on the Mall students put on a fashion show with clothes from Springfield-based Visionz urban-wear.

Shaquanna Daniels-Nobles loves walking the runway as a fashion model. "It’s fun because all eyes are on you. When you do it the first time, it’s very scary, because you’re in front of a whole bunch of people, but you can’t be shy," she said.

Daniels-Nobles, a sophomore at West Potomac High School, got the chance to strut her stuff along with more than 20 of her classmates, as part of the Visionz 2004 Fashion Show, which took place on Friday, Nov. 5, at Springfield Mall. The fashion show was produced entirely by students from Fairfax County Public Schools’ Classrooms on the Mall (COTM) program, which allows students the chance to learn about subjects like marketing by taking classes at the mall.

"It’s a very hands-on opportunity," said Melanie Coughlan, who teaches three marketing classes at Springfield Mall and coordinated the fashion show. "In the schools, they can do a fashion show, but there’s not as much interplay with the businesses in the community."

Normally, COTM students produce a fashion show in the spring as part of their curriculum, but thanks to the help of clothing line Visionz, which is based in Springfield, they cranked a fashion show out in the fall, just before they are set to open their annual holiday store later this month.

"We wanted to get some hands-on experience for the kids, but also get our name out," said John Kang, marketing director for the Visionz clothing line. "We came across the idea, ‘How about we do a Visionz fashion show?’"

THE SHOW is somewhat of a coup for Visionz, a new clothing line from embroidery mogul Jung Kang, which specializes in urban-wear, T-shirts, sweat suits and outerwear. Since its target audience is high-school students, getting students to wear the clothes for a fashion show was a big plus.

"We’re trying to create this relationship with the schools," said John Kang.

The first Visionz store opened in March at the Iverson Mall in Hillcrest Heights, Md., and a store opened in the Springfield Mall in October. Beginning in early October, the 70 students in the three marketing classes offered through COTM worked with representatives from Visionz to create the show. They went to the store, offered their feedback on the clothes, and some even offered some designs that the company plans to incorporate into its line.

"When I first heard about it, I thought this was the opportunity to put my foot in the door," said Kelly Lanes of Springfield, a senior at Annandale High School. "I design all the time. At home I have sketchbooks full of stuff that I’ve designed in my spare time."

After finalizing which clothes to wear, the models were sized — 22 students actually walked the runway — and the others pitched in with lights, set design and helping to get the word out. The night of the show, 20 more students worked as dressers, making sure models got their clothing changes done in time.

"It’s really hectic. Everyone’s been running around doing stuff. We don’t have a lot of time to get everything prepared," said Bobby Freese of Burke, who attends Robinson Secondary. "I’ve learned how much work a fashion show really is. It’s not just throwing on clothes