The prep area was chaotic as students and teachers rushed to put the finishing touches on extravagant braids and smokey eye shadow. It was only half an hour before the students’ models were expected to take the runway, and everything had to be just right.
Saturday marked the Aveda Institute’s 20th annual Earth month fashion show, “Catwalks for Water.” Pairing students with local designers, the event raised money to provide clean water to communities in India, Nepal, Madagascar and Ethiopia — all countries that source Aveda beauty products.
Students had been planning this event since last fall and arrived as early as 6:30 Saturday morning to bring their designs to life.
This show is one of the few times Aveda students are able to experiment with hair and makeup, as their normal clientele often doesn't request some of the out-of-ordinary styles seen on the runway.
“We’re so used to [doing what clients want] everyday … but the ball is in our court this time,” said Aveda student Alexa Hanson. “We get to really put what we know and what we love into our work, which I think is really nice. It gets so easy throughout the program to kind of lose yourself, and this has definitely reignited my passion [for cosmetology].”
Not only does the show give students the opportunity to get creative, it also emphasizes the artistry of working in a salon.
Sasha Zavyalova, a model for the show and a University of Minnesota alum, graduated from Aveda last week.
She emphasized that not everyone realizes how important hair and makeup are for self-expression.
“Sometimes people think, ‘Oh, it’s just makeup.’ It’s not, it’s so much more,” she said. “I hope that these artists take themselves seriously [and] know they’re creating something new. So what if it’s makeup? It’s [important], especially in a culture that’s [so] visual.”
The annual show comes as a nice change of pace for students who often work all week and may never participate in a fashion show during their career, said Aveda instructor Julie Hunkins.
“A lot of students dream of working [a] fashion week, and we just really like to give them a taste of it,” Hunkins said. “The students just come alive. A lot of them will never get to do something like this again, so it’s just [really] fun for them.”
Some Aveda students said they feel there’s a stigma against pursuing cosmetology as a career, which prevented them from studying at Aveda earlier.
At the beginning of the fashion show, a speaker even made a point to assure parents that their children will enter a profitable field post-graduation.
“When I was a kid, everyone always thought that because I loved doing hair that I would want to do that [as a career], but I didn’t feel like it was okay,” said Aveda student Rachael Hanson. “I felt that I had to go to a four-year school and get a degree. And [when] I was looking for a change, I realized [that] I watch hair videos every day [and] I love hair — why am I not allowing myself to do this?”
Hanson, a 1996 graduate of the University of Minnesota, said it was hard to recognize that it wasn’t selfish for her to pursue the joy she felt with cosmetology. Now, over halfway through her schooling at Aveda, she feels like she made the right choice.
Dozens of parents and friends cheered as each model walked the runway on Saturday afternoon. In the designs, they saw not only their loved ones but the devotion and drive it took to create the final product.
“It’s good to be able to show our true passion every once in a while,” said Molly Cantlon, an Aveda student graduating in September. “We get to show why we’re here, what we love to do and what we can do.”