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“One day when you’re famous…” began the pitch from Makeup by Masotti’s chief makeup artist, Lauren. For more than thirty young men and women from Daniel Hand High School students, when they do become famous years from now, they'll know what it takes to look the part, and walk the walk.
Fame and the famous were the reasons why they were wading through clouds of hairspray Sunday afternoon at in Madison, CT waiting to have their hair teased up and slicked back.
Famous actors, directors, and cinematographers gather once a year to celebrate film at a ceremony revered as The Oscars. This year Madison played host to the first annual event at the Madison Arts Cinema with the proceeds benefiting the Daniel Hand High School Scholarship Fund. The Oscars in Madison event took place on the same night as the real event in Los Angeles, only instead of having Meryl Streep or George Clooney walk down the red carpet in Versace or Georgio Armani, Madison had high school students dolled up in elegant gowns and decked out in classic tuxedos and sharp suits from .
Models excited, but unsure
The “models” began gathering at 1:30 in the afternoon at the Timothy Pamment Salon, excited, but unsure of what would happen after only two rehearsals at school.
As members of the group talked about homework, college, and what they did that weekend, some also paged through fashion magazines available at the salon and talked about the best way to tackle the catwalk. The students, juniors and seniors, many of them contemplating their next steps in life, were successful and accomplished in many ways. Analyzing mitosis and meiosis in a biology lab? No problem. Running a complex play on a football field? With ease. Performing a complicated dance routine in front of a cheering crowd? With pleasure.
But, for most of them, walking slowly down an aisle, with music pumping, and with an audience scrutinizing what they looked like rather than what they were doing? This was a brand new and somewhat intimidating challenge.
“We haven’t actually done it [the show] the way it is going to pan out in the movie theater, so we don’t really know what we are doing yet," explained Jackie Morris, a junior at Hand, Sunday afternoon.
Black-clad stylists and lots of hair spray
Meghan Telford, a novice at modeling of any sort, said “We had two meetings. People from a modeling agency came and showed us how to walk. That was about it.” While Nicole Clarke, a junior, wasn’t nervous about modeling she said, “I’m most concerned about not tripping and falling.”
The salon Sunday afternoon was full of chic black-clad hairstylists, working on the model’s hair. Height seemed to be the ultimate goal with even the shortest locks being teased, pinned up, sprayed, and curled. Photographers and videographers surrounded the young men and women as works in progress, shooting against the hair-product filled walls, giving the salon the aura of an actual runway backstage.
As much excitement as the atmosphere created, for some of the models it felt like a grown-up version of playing dress-up. Modeling as a career, for most of the participants, was not an option. “My parents are realistic people, so for me this is just for fun,” said Telford.
Hair and makeup underway, focusing on the fashion
Still, the dedicated and frenetic work of the hair- and makeup-stylists made it feel like this actually was the Oscars.
Timothy Pamment, owner of the salon, dashed back and forth, clips in hand, providing direction and support as his stylists transformed teen hair into supermodel hair. He consulted with the makeup artists from Makeup by Masotti, as they worked with brushes along the unadorned faces of the models. Jennifer Weiss, one of the makeup stylists, explained the makeup was designed to look “avant-garde.” When asked whether she watched the Oscars, she said, “I focus on the fashion.”
With their hair and makeup done, the young women went over to Asiye’s Boutique to get zipped up into their dresses and adorned with jewels and flowers. As part of the evening's festivities, guests began to arrive at where renowned chef Silvio Suppa had prepared a Surf & Turf, stuffed shrimp & Chicken Francaise, or the vegetarian option Pasta Primavera, paired with a Garden Salad. The young men, most of whom looked genuinely startled by the amount of hair product and physical effort required to turn them into local versions of Brad Pitt, changed from their t-shirts and jeans into tuxedos and suits provided by of Madison.
Walking slowly while looking gorgeous proves to be more complicated than it initially seems
As the diners finished up their meal, the models began filing into the Madison Art Cinema for their first official practice on site.
Daniel Hand High School teachers Paula Chabot, Lindsay Johnson, and Anita Ferron ushered the models into their positions. The initial rehearsal looked grim as models, many of them student athletes who walk the halls of the high school with supreme confidence every day, were unsure of where to go and how fast to walk. Shannon Carlson, a senior at Hand, took her partner by the arm and started to walk only to stop and admit, “I am so confused right now.”
With time running out, Johnson gathered the group and encouraged them to focus. “We’ll only have fifteen minutes to go through this,” she said, before directing the girls into the waiting room behind the theater screen. As the models came out one by one, shouts of “Slower!” could be heard from the aisles where the organizers coached the girls from the sidelines. Within those fifteen minutes, the group focused on finishing up incomplete biographies for the models, touching up the hair styles, tracking down tardy participants, and looking for a lost earring.
After last-minute prepping and primping, the show begins
As guests began to file into the theater, Chabot turned to Johnson and asked with a grin “Did you practice this at school?” Smiling weakly, Johnson replied, “Like twice.”
The clock struck 7:30 p.m., and, after all the primping and prepping, the fashion show began. Asiye Kaye, the owner of Asiye’s Boutique, kicked off the event by explaining how she conceived of this event five years ago. This September, when she began working with Arnold Gorlick, owner of the Madison Arts Cinema, the dream become a reality.
Kaye then began her own version of an Oscar speech, thanking the event’s two main sponsors and for their immediate support. Kaye explained after receiving their help “…that was it. I could go from there. We started calling friends and it turned out to be great.”
Thanks and more thanks
Kaye also thanked local Madison companies including , , and . When thanking Kaye joked, “They are here and they wanted to give us full support to make us drink and have more fun. I’m almost there.”
Gorlick then thanked Kaye for all of her hard work and enthusiasm. He expressed gratitude that Kaye was now his next door neighbor, with the opening of her second boutique downtown. Newscaster Sonia Baghdady and Miss Connecticut 2010 Brittany Decker of WTNH News 8 were then introduced. When initially detailing how she became involved Baghdady explained, “Asiye asked me if I wanted to be a part of this, and I said as long as I can make my hair as big as humanly possible.” Dressed in a shimmering teal gown, and bedecked with big hair, it looked as though Baghdady achieved that goal.
As hosts for the night, Baghdady and Decker quipped their way through the biographies of the models, entertained the crowd, and explained the finer points the dresses and tuxedos. In the end, no one tripped, no one fell, and everyone looked stunning. The models, presenters, and organizers pulled together to give the audience a glimpse of Hollywood stardom, Madison style.
For a night, they were famous
The evening concluded with the audience watching the Academy Awards live in the Madison Arts Cinema. As with the winners of the Oscar, this will be a night long remembered by the models from Daniel Hand High School.
For one night, they were famous.
For more information about the evening, and participating sponsors, go to www.oscarsinmadison.com
Patch Contributor Carlin McCarthy is a reporter and editor for the Hand Print at Daniel Hand High School, where she is a student. You can follow her Twitter Feed at https://twitter.com/#!/TheHandPrint