The Junior League of Las Vegas has been serving our community for more than 70 years. It’s well-known for projects that have segued into leading nonprofit organizations like The Shade Tree and the Discovery Children’s Museum, as well as creating opportunities for local students through its Fashion Foward initiative.

JLLV members log thousands of volunteer hours each year to make an impact within the JLLV’s focus area of youth ages 12 and older in the areas of education, and overall health and wellness within the community.   

A Fashionable Initiative

Fashion Forward, an annual challenge that is similar to Lifetime’s Emmy-nominated television show “Project Runway,” is held by the Junior League for the benefit of Clark County high school students.

“Our goal is to give these budding designers a glimpse into what it is like to create a look and put on a runway show,” said chairwoman Abigail Stewart. “Promoting sewing and design, Fashion Forward inspires healthy competition of over 300 local students from 11 high schools.”

During Junior League of Las Vegas Fashion Forward 2017, a male student model showcases a design on the final runway.

Fashion Forward 2017 final runway competition

For its ninth year, the Fashion Forward competition began this past fall. Now, only 70 students remain, and they’re faced with a challenging elimination round.

The young designers have been tasked with creating either a hoodie or romper made of muslin to showcase their talents.

With the final runway looming ahead on April 28, the students diligently have been crafting their unique garments all semester. They were given a theme of iconic films and musicals as inspiration. 

A Stylish Vocation

“What I love about Fashion Forward,” explained Sonnya DeBonis, JLLV president, “is that we are adding to the curriculum that high school students in the design space already study.

“They are not just learning fashion design and how to create one-of-a-kind garments; they are also learning the background of the industry, about being a buyer, getting creative on a budget and design with a theme.”

Stewart agreed, “We are spotlighting a group of students that might not otherwise be featured and promoting a vocation,” 

Junior League of Las Vegas Fashion Forward 2017

Junior League of Las Vegas Fashion Forward 2017

These students not only have the support of their teachers, but also from incredible mentors, including the fabulous Kevin Smith of the Trade and Fashion Academy.

Like “Project Runway’s” ever-knowing Tim Gunn, Smith serves as a mentor to the students, often offering sage wisdom and a quick smile. Star Costume and Theatrical Supply has also been a long-term supporter, donating fabric and notions for the students to bring their designs to life.

2018 Spring Runway

Students who made it to the final runway show will compete in two different levels: couture and designer.

“With this year’s theme of ‘Lights, Camera, Fashion,’ we are taking a cinematic approach,” Stewart said.

Presenting a movie premiere-type experience at this year’s Fashion Forward show, which is being hosted for a second year by The Palazzo, the Junior League of Las Vegas is selling three levels of tickets.

For more details on the runway show hosted by KTNV-TV’s Dayna Roselli, or for VIP and Couture level tickets that include a pre-event soiree and gift, go to The Venetian | The Palazzo’s Ticketmaster site.

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