On a late September Saturday, Short Pump Town Center was filled with bright pants, high heels and the latest trends as the crowd gathered for the Project Style – Style Off Competition.
Project Style is a national contest put on by local malls from May to September that pits local fashionistas against each other first in a voting round and then in a live style off competition for a $1000 mall gift card and, of course, styling bragging rights.
This year’s event featured 5 fabulous ladies – Latoya Brown, Kori Jones, Maya Shaw, Hilary Saunders and Emily Moore – who had just one hour and $250 to scour the mall and put together their winning outfit. The contestants were judged on style, poise, price points and how well their look fit their body type and personality. The judges, well versed in all things style, were Julia Naismith, a booker for Modelogic, Lauren Healy, fashion assistant at Belle Magazine, and Larissa Wisniewski, last year’s winner of Project Style.
While the models had one hour to shop, the crowd was kept entertained by a stream of fashion shows. First the VCU School of Fashion covered the runway with amazing day and evening dresses that were meticulously crafted and show cased strong details such as a grey peplum dress lined in red or a velvet jumpsuit with a deep v-neck and back.
Other Short Pump Town Center retailers included South Moon Under, Cache, Eddie Bauer, Justice, Bevello and GAP. While the models wowed in their attire, the runway hits turned out to be models who were under three feet – little tykes with berets, suits and dresses from Jack and Jill.
When the contestants returned, the judges didn’t have an easy job before them as each girl put together a look that suited her – Latoya was a strong contestant with a well put together look that show cased this season’s black on brown polka dots and the hottest of hot colors – oxblood in her blouse, shoes and clutch that she pulled together without appearing overly matchy. Kori stood out in a bright yellow blazer while Maya brought school girl chic with an embroidered brief case bag and knee high socks. Hilary took to the leather trend with a pleated skirt and Emily stood by a return hit trend – the peplum, looking effortlessly chic in tailored pants and a small clutch.
After much deliberation, Larissa took to the mic and congratulated each girl on their well put together look and announced this year’s winner: Maya Shaw – with the chic jewel toned dress, embroidered bag and school girl socks (an outfit entirely from Urban Outfitters).
Maya’s family performed a little happy dance in the crowd and as it was announced that Maya is now off to New York City to represent Richmond in a National Style off to be judged by Nick Verreos, a Project Runway designer and Jeannie Mai, host of “How Do I Look.” And what does she win if she wins conquers this style off? Every fashion girl’s dream: a trip to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in NYC!