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How this DC Mom Ended Up on a NY Fashion Week Runway

When my PR-extraordinaire friend El’Jay DeShield casually invited me to Project Runway’s standout designer Korto Momolu’s show at New York Fashion Week, I figured he had seen my jiu jitsu arms, and thought I’d be great for heavy lifting backstage. I’m used to this; people ask me to help out with manual labor all the time.

So I vainly agreed.

That night, I fell asleep daydreaming about how Korto’s team would be so impressed by my physical prowess and invite me to an exclusive storage room where they keep boxes of packaged models— wait, they come in boxes right? Anyway, with my awesome arms crossed, I’d stand back assessing which box I could carry (the biggest one of course). I would then open it and gently take out a starving model, give her a drop of zero-calorie water, and carry her to the nearest makeup artist and hair stylist. My hair intact, my skin never getting oily, and my arms glistening with amazing strength, I would make these trips back and forth, over and over again. People backstage would pause from their busy tasks to ask,

“Excuse me, do you work out?”, or

“Wow, you look like you’re in your mid-twenties!”, and

“When did you first realize you had perfect upper body strength?”

At the end of the show, I’d help pack the models back into their respective boxes to be shipped to the next show, or back to wherever models are bred.

Ever the altruist, I looked forward to it.

Excited for Korto tweet

Call time was 3:45pm, so I walked in at 3:30pm. Full disclosure, I had been waiting at a café a couple of blocks away since 3:00pm. Not desperate at all—just normal, responsible behavior for punctual people like myself who will never concede to the stupidity that is fashionably late. I’m neither fashionable nor late; not even at New York Fashion Week.

Backstage was a busy scene, as fashion shows had been taking place all day at the venue. I was waiting in one of the hallways when this happened:

*Frantic Guy walks past me then turns back around*

Frantic Guy: Are you a model?

Me [Giving him the GTFOHWTBS stare. Defensively, I retort]: No.

Frantic Guy: Would you PLEASE help us? We’re short of one model.

I know what you’re thinking. This would never happen because, well, it’s me. And I totally agree. Just let me finish.

Me [Bashful]: Um…

Frantic Guy [Grabbing my arm]: Okay come with me.

He then led me to the dressing area and announced that he’d found a model replacement and that the show would be on in 15 minutes. Upon meeting the designer Avnah Davis-Long, I immediately poured out my disclaimers: I had never done this before; I wasn’t wearing any makeup; have they seen my back area to see whether it would fit? I also mumbled something about just being there to lift heavy boxes. Undressed and in my trusted spanks and bra, I waited.

Within minutes, I was dressed and lined up behind real models with real skinny bodies and really high cheekbones. With just powder on my face and filled in eyebrows (Thanks Maurice Lawyer at BE Magazine!), I took deep breaths with Avnah and felt my body freely sweat from all pores and crevices. More on that… never.

I was second to last and right before I went out, I asked the other girls how to walk the runway. They gave me a blank stare for a few seconds before suggesting I just try not to fall. GULP!

Once it was my turn, I walked out smiling and feeling the moment; my imaginary close mentor and friend Russell Simmons would be proud. That is until I noticed that none of the models walking back towards me were smiling and I was cheesing like an idiot. So I fixed my face and basically went back to looking like how I was really feeling: worried, scared, itchy, and definitely like a sketchy fraud. That was my face walking down the runway.

And. I. Loved. It.

IMG_7488

Afterwards, I expressed my gratitude to Avnah for inviting me to be part of her show. Honestly, it was a fun and unexpected experience that I hold dear. For a moment, I felt like a reformed nerd and even changed my posture to that of a confident person for the rest of the day.

Avnah runway tweet

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6 Comments

  1. AH V! Such a great photo of you on the runway..work it! Super lucky to have participated in fashion week :)

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