In September, shoes clicked, cameras flashed, and editors critiqued Spring 2011 fashion collections in cities like New York, Paris, Milan, and… Bryan/College Station?

Thanks to the passion of Mays marketing graduate student Paige Melvin ’09, Bryan/College Station did join the ranks of the world’s most fashionable cities through the event Fashion Week B/CS.

The event resulted in not only heightened awareness for fashion and the arts in the area, but also a tangible gift to the community: Melvin donated the $3,572 of proceeds to local nonprofits Carpool, Habitat for Humanity and the Brazos Valley Community Action Agency.

Though Melvin does not have a background in fashion (she holds an undergraduate degree in international affairs and a minor in business from Mays) she said that she “is a huge fan of what some of the young designers are doing with their businesses… To me, fashion isn’t just about clothes, it is about a movement of a culture.”

“I think being able to see what someone is wearing or doing, and then bring that back to a business level…is a great skill,” says Melvin. “Working with young designers and community leaders definitely helps hone that skill, and it is something you can stretch across fashion and the arts, but also into finance, corporate cultures, and more.”

Fashion Week B/CS ran from September 20- 25, featuring a different imaginative event each night to showcase local talent, such as a hair show with an Alice in Wonderland theme. The mission was to create an atmosphere where community members could interact, enjoy the arts, and support local businesses. Events were free, with VIP seating available for a premium.

Many A&M students modeled and volunteered behind-the-scenes.

Though the looks of Vera Wang, Marc Jacobs, and Karl Lagerfeld were not on the B/CS runways — they were too busy in New York City at the time — local artists buzzed about Fashion Week BCS, enthusiastic to show their creations. From tee shirt designers, to hairstylists, to burgeoning couturists, these fashion enthusiasts participated in a venture unique to this area. As they were gaining exposure and experience in Fashion B/CS, they were also able to give back in a big way.

A host of local businesses recognized Melvin’s passion and belief in the mission of the project and provided her with logistical and financial support. More than $40,000, mostly in-kind donations, was given, including all event space.

Melvin was pleased with the community support. Immediately after the final fashion show on Saturday night, she said, “It was so much bigger and better than I could have ever imagined.”

Melvin goals for next year surpass this year’s. She hopes to give away more money and to set up a foundation for youth arts education programs.
“I do hope that it becomes an annual event. Having been through the steep learning curve of this year, there are definitely little things I’d like change, but overall, I think everything was fantastic, and with growth all things will come.”

Melvin gave credit to two Mays faculty members for equipping her with the skills necessary to pull off an event of this magnitude. Entrepreneurship classes with Mays management faculty Richard Lester and Brett Gilbert encouraged her to push her limits and be creative. “Having professors place the emphasis on the process and not the main objective…it enables you to push past your comfort zone and work on the idea rather than the grade,” she said. “A&M does a great job of pushing you to see opportunities.”