Reading, writing and arithmetic made way for heels, halter tops and high fashion at Flowing Wells High School Friday.
More than 90 young models, nearly all Flowing Wells students, took to the runway in the school's auditorium, donning sleek dresses, breezy summer attire, snappy men's ensembles and fantastical costumes.
The 140 pieces were created entirely by students enrolled in the Flowing Wells fashion and theater costume design programs at the school, 3725 N. Flowing Wells Road.
Each walk down the runway was greeted with enthusiastic cheers and applause from the audience of nearly 500 people.
Natalie Granados, a senior at Flowing Wells and an advanced fashion design student, showcased seven of her own pieces, including a cream-colored gown accented with ruffles and studs.
"I was nervous that my models would mess up," Granados, 17, said. "But they did such a great job."
Kimberly Loyd, the fashion and theater costume design instructor at Flowing Wells, coordinated Friday's show.
Loyd, a fashion design graduate from Columbia College in Columbia, Mo., came to Flowing Wells from Kansas City, Mo., three years ago.
It was Loyd's idea to hold an annual fashion show created by students.
Her first attempt, dubbed Fusion, was held in 2011.
"I wanted there to be a way for the students to show off their skills," she said. "I also felt it would be a great way to promote the program."
The event was a success on both counts.
The number of students in her three classes - beginners, advanced and costume design - jumped from 28 last year to 76 this year.
"Kids saw that they were able to get involved and construct something," Loyd said. "Their friends saw it and said, 'Fashion! Fun!' "
It also helped raise funds.
The money raised from the $3 to $5 admission to the shows goes back into the fashion department to help pay for supplies and field trips.
"They have had some really good exhibits in Phoenix," Loyd said.
Projects were stepped up at this year's fashion show, aptly called Fusion 2.
The evening was divided into several segments, starting with party dresses that students created for the Mothers Against Drunk Driving, "M.A.D.D. for Fashion" event, held in November.
From there, models appeared wearing prom dresses, wedding gowns and elaborate costumes from the school's theatrical productions of "The Wizard of Oz" and "Attack of the Pom Pom Zombies."
During the wearable-art portion of the evening, students appeared in outfits made with My Little Pony toys, toilet paper and festive Christmas garlands.
Designer Christina Drennan dressed her model in sculpted pieces of newspaper. Full pages of print were ruffled to make up a skirt, with braided strips of hot-glued pages covering a red fabric top.
"I wanted to do something that involved recycling," Drennan said. "It was so weird and different from what other people were doing."
"I love wearable art because it pushes their creativity," Loyd said. "They can't go to a catalog and find a pattern. It is an opportunity for them to go wild and crazy."
Among the most popular designers of the night was Granados, who was honored with an award from Loyd after the show for best overall construction.
Granados got involved in the Flowing Wells fashion program her junior year.
She knew very little about creating dresses when she started, but was inspired by her parents, who worked in clothing factories in Los Angeles when she was a child.
"Their passion really got me into it," she said.
Granados picked things up quickly. Pretty soon it was all she could think about.
She spent hours after school and on weekends getting her pieces ready for this year's event.
"Fashion is just my thing," she said. "I really want to go that direction. I want to end up with clothing lines like Alexander McQueen or Diane Von Furstenberg."
Loyd hopes the fashion shows and classes are just as encouraging for all of her students.
"Even if you don't want to get into fashion, you still come away with skills that can earn you money," she said.
"I love wearable art because it pushes their creativity. They can't go to a catalog and find a pattern. It is an opportunity for them to go wild and crazy."
Kimberly Loyd, teacher
Contact reporter Gerald M. Gay at firstname.lastname@example.org or 807-8430.