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Strutting Down Fashion Avenue

Marymount fashion students show their stuff at Portfolio in Motion 2006.

Arlington may not be synonymous with fashion, but don't be surprised if the next big name in design is from Marymount University. Fashion and Fashion Merchandising students held their annual Portfolio in Motion last weekend, the theme of which was "Fashion Avenue."

THE FRIDAY luncheon show, which was attended by designer Kay Unger and was the first of three over the weekend, went off without a hitch. Portfolio in Motion 2006 was held at the Rose Bente Center on the Marymount campus. The event was entirely student-produced, meaning that everything from lighting to modeling was done by them. "I have design teams that don't do it as well," said Unger after the show during her remarks.

Unger was selected as Designer of the Year by the students, who invite a designer each year to attend the show and critique their work. "I'm so honored to have this award," she said when it was presented.

Megan Murphy of Arlington was one of the show's Executive Head Coordinators, and was Technical and Visual Director. "It's very busy but very worth it," she said during preparations for the show. "I spend most of my time on music and lighting." As a Fashion Merchandising senior, she hopes to produce fashion shows in the future or get into marketing fashion. "I'm learning more and more about what looks good."

Senior designer Lee Ann Johnson's coral-inspired line was part of the show, which included only jury-selected designs. "It's a lot of hard work," she said just before the show started. "It's fun seeing the whole thing come together." Johnson, like other designers, was one of the models as well. She'll be working at an internship with a small local company after graduation.

Several different awards were presented after the show by Department Chair Janice Ellinwood. The Best of 2006 Awards went to Lee Ann Johnson for Best Senior Line for a Market, Kay Charbonnet for Best Senior Line for Craftsmanship, and Eileen Mitchell for Best Senior Line for Aesthetic Design.

Senior designer Caroline Lauchert won both the NAMSB Foundation Arthur H. Taylor Award for Excellence in Menswear Design and the Portfolio in Motion Award. The former is remarkable considering Lauchert's specialty is accessories, but the latter is even more so as it is for academic achievement. Lauchert is graduating with a 3.96 GPA.

"THE BIGGEST challenge is time management," she says. She plans to stay in Arlington after graduation and start an accessory business, selling wholesale and at trade shows. She says she always liked making belts, and she honed her skills last summer during an internship in London at Rebel Dogg, a leather accessories company. "It's been an amazing, wonderful four years," she says.

The student-models, who went through rigorous training and countless practices and rehearsals, were a highlight of the show. They were coordinated and professional throughout, even under the duress of speed-changing backstage. Models were from all disciplines, including English, Biology, and Criminal Justice.

The Fashion Avenue theme was created by the students as well, and resonated throughout the show, luncheon and press kits. According to Murphy, it was meant to convey a "boutique style setting, with store from windows with mannequins." Even the centerpieces for the luncheon had street-sign table numbers. Murphy said that they were expecting about 500 people at the luncheon show, and about 700 for the following evening shows.

The turnout was indeed good for the luncheon show, which was attended by Arlington County Board Member Barbara Favola and Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple. Favola, a regular attendee of the annual event, said, "This is one of the best shows in years."