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Call it Project Runway - with a twist. ODU fashion students and participants in the university's Institute for Learning in Retirement (ILR) will team up for a seniors fashion show Saturday, Dec. 2.

While the students aren't involved in fashion design, they will be doing the behind-the-scenes work - everything from planning to producing the show - as part of a requirement for the course Fashion Show Production. The class is being taught this semester on an adjunct basis by Bonnie Molloy, who holds bachelor's and master's degrees from ODU. Molloy also teaches at Cox High School in Virginia Beach, where the show will be staged.

Having the students work with ILR members as models is giving them experience with a target market different from themselves, explained Sharon Davis, ODU's full-time fashion merchandising faculty member. The 33 models - 28 women and five men - range in age from 55 to 87.

"The members were intrigued by the fashion show proposal, and a little surprised, because we really hadn't envisioned anything quite like this," said Toby Netherton, ILR's curriculum director.

"The idea of a dialogue between older people and young college students on the topic of fashion was very appealing to many of us. We are hopeful that these young women who are going into careers in the fashion industry will take with them a greater appreciation for the problems of a group that is not currently well-served by the fashion industry - older men and women."

Netherton added that the project fits in nicely with one of the goals in ILR's strategic plan, which is to interact more with ODU students and faculty. "We wanted to strengthen our members' sense of belonging to the ODU community, and we wanted to increase awareness of our organization among the staff, faculty and students on the main ODU campus."

In addition to working with the models, the ODU students designed the tickets for the show, arranged for music and developed publicity, among other tasks. Students at Cox are also involved in the project.

The show is being sponsored by the Virginia Assistive Technology System (VATS), and proceeds will go to the Institute for Learning in Retirement. VATS will demonstrate assistive technology devices at the event. Retailers providing the fashions include: Talbots, Stein Mart, Hang-Ups, Ocean Palm, La'Nor and After Hours.

The show will begin at 3 p.m., preceded by refreshments at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 and may be purchased at the door or by calling Molloy at 481-1043.
ODU's 120-hour fashion emphasis program is designed to prepare students to enter the fashion industry to become buyers, fashion coordinators and merchandise managers. Approximately 135 degree-seeking students are currently enrolled.

This article was posted on: November 15, 2006

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