| Mar 12, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - March 12, 2009 Sydenham Students were “Dressed to Kill”By Julie Druker and Wilma Kenny

Grade 11 student Emi Belliveau backstage showing and wearing her own "Dressed to Kill" creations. Photo: Julie Druker

Shelley Brooks, an adolescent care worker at Sydenham High School, has co-ordinated the annual fashion show for the last 25 years and has been involved with it even longer than that. In the Sydenham gym on March 4, the day of the event, Brooks explained “I helped co-ordinate the show way back when I ran the daycare here, long before I was even working at the school”.

It is no wonder than that this year’s 39th version of Sydenham High School's annual fashion show called “Dressed to Kill” was so highly polished, well organized and ran as smoothly as the silky outfits that shimmered on the stage.

Brooks is humble, though, and attributes the show’s success to staff, volunteers and all of the students both on and off the stage who make it work. She explained, “For me the fashion show is about bringing all of different school groups together. That’s why I do it. In high school you have so many different cliques and it’s a way to eliminate that. Anyone who wants to be in the show can be”.

Over 80 models including staff and students showed clothes from 21 different stores in and around the Kingston area. The more theatrically minded students had a chance to act in the ongoing murder mystery that was an integral and entertaining part of the show.

For Emi Belliveau, a grade 11 student at the school, it was an opportunity to flaunt her hand-sewn creations, formal and informal dresses that she has been making for herself and friends. Her “sewing set”, a series of nine dresses, were featured in the first half of the show. Emi says that it was her friends who suggested that she approach Brooks to have her dresses in the show.

Brooks was happy to include Emi’s work and recalled, “Twenty years ago the majority of the clothes in the show were student made, but with the end of Home Economics that has all changed.”

Emi’s been making dresses for herself since grade 7. She started watching her aunt make dresses and began at a young age assisting her.

The show is great publicity for Emi and she said when I spoke to her after the show, “I’ve had about 20 requests in the past two years for dresses and I’ve made 12 so far since it takes a lot of time.”

Emi enjoys the creative element involved in the work and likely inherited that gene from her parents. She explained, “Both my parents are artists. Before I make anything I always draw it and I have a lot of great design ideas but the final product also depends on the fabric that I’m able to get my hands on”.

Over a hundred models, ranging from toddlers to teachers, wore clothing on loan from a variety of Kingston stores. One set featured dresses completely designed and stitched by Emi Belliveau, an SHS student. Three others were the traditional wedding party, prom and tuxedo sets.

Two dance numbers choreographed by Danielle Asselstine and Jackie Evoy starred members of Katie May’s dance class wearing, in one set, vintage gowns from “What’ll I Wear?”

Woven throughout, a comedy/thriller featured Laura Bauman as the unbearably bossy show coordinator, with Geoff Hall, Dylan Parsons and Kyle Kelsey as her assistant, her bodyguard, and a hired killer (with years of video game experience) who team up to do her in. In true cartoon style, there were plenty of dramatic pratfalls into the centre well, with nobody ever getting injured.

As might be expected, there were a lot more gals than guys on the runway, but the “boy models” wore their suits with flair and confidence, and the audience greeted the shirtless overalls with rockstar appreciation.

The finale was a glorious tongue-in-cheek display of “trash fashion:” it’s truly amazing what can be created from garbage bags, crime scene tape, a bit of cardboard and a lot of duct tape! (Photo left, by Wilma Kenny)

And what will Emido now that "Dressed to Kill" is over?

She will have a chance for further fashion inspiration as she travels to France next week with 30 other students as part of a French exchange program. They will spend 4 days of their trip in Paris, where Fashion Week will have just ended.

For most of us though, the runway right here in Sydenham was the place to be to get our pre-spring fashion fix. As usual the Sydenham event was well attended and the students who took in the midday show hooted and hollered their approval.

Funds raised from this year’s show will be put towards spotlights for the stage and other stage renovations.

Show participants were looking forward to the evening performance and the wrap up party to be held at Raxx in Kingston at a later date.

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