'Style Council' Gives Local Students a Chance to Pursue Fashion Interests


(Wednesday, March 14, 2007 5:40 AM EDT)

Arlington students who dream of walking the runway, taking photos at fashion shoots or becoming a stylist for the stars are in luck.

Fashion-industry hopefuls who participate in the Arlington Style Council, an after-school program lead by Barbara McConaghy, and can be trained in everything from runway skills to developing a personal style to casting-call etiquette.

McConaghy, who has lived in Arlington for about 25 years, is a fashion stylist, show producer and editor, and has worked for publications such as Washington Life, DCStyle, YM and Seventeen.

Through the Style Council, she gives students a taste of what the fashion industry is really like and introduces them to elements of the business they might not be familiar with.

“Everyone thinks you have to be a size two or four, and 5 foot, 10 inches to be a model,” McConaghy said in a recent interview. “But there are so many other, different parts of the business. Opening your eyes to the other parts is a wonderful thing.”

She also stresses the business aspect of fashion, as well as the confidence and professionalism necessary for success.

To give students hands-on experience in the world of fashion, McConaghy has allowed them to help with her own projects, including a wedding photo shoot for Washington Life magazine.

“It's a risk, but so many of them step up to the task,” McConaghy said. “If you don't set the bar high, how will they learn?”

Students who participated in the program recently also worked backstage at the Fashion Fights Poverty charity show in the fall, put on a holiday fashion show at their schools and each had responsibility for one full photo shoot.

The program is offered to high school students at Washington-Lee, Yorktown and Wakefield high schools. About 20 students from each school participate, and meet after school on a weekly basis.

A few students in the program have already landed modeling jobs, but McConaghy recognizes that not everyone will enter the fashion industry. However, she believes the Arlington Style Council has a positive impact on everyone in it.

“The students feel strong, confident and successful, and their parents know they've completed something,” she said. “They can apply what they learn to anything, and that's what I love.”

Bishrel Byambajar of Washington-Lee High School is among students participating in the Arlington Style Council.

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