WESTMINSTER — With wet hair dangling across faces devoid of makeup, the girls provided a sharp contrast to perfectly coiffed models parading down the runway beside them.
Karen Schiebel of Sykesville and Michelle Bargeof Manchester sat calmly, draped in black plastic aprons, as expertswent to work with an array of hair supplies and makeup.
Minutes before, the two teens were part of a squealing throng at Cranberry Mall crying, "Pick me, pick me!" as Jodie McKenzie, merchandising editor for Mademoiselle magazine, asked who wanted make-over magic.
The magazine, an arbiter of women's clothing for 56 years, takes to the road often and is staging 25 on-location events this fall. Leggett's co-sponsored Saturday's show.
"Who wants a completely new look to start fall and the opportunity to be featured in a magazine?" McKenzie asked, warning everyone that hair stylist Gregory Paul had his scissors ready for action.
About half the crowd of 200 volunteered to give the beauty experts a free hand. Within minutes, McKenzie and her team had selected Karen, 18, and Michelle, 16.
"We look for photogenic candidates with good hair and skin," she said. "Ourexperts then work to bring them to their full beauty potential."
Roya, a New York photographer, snapped several "before" and "after" pictures, which could land in the pages of a spring issue.
With thelatest techniques in styling and makeup at their fingertips, Paul and Dawn Stone clipped, combed and added just a touch of foundation andblush as they took the girls' looks from typical teen to model chic.
Before diverting the audience's attention to Leggett's fashions, McKenzie assured the audience the would-be models would return at theend of the show.
Karen, a student at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, said she didn't mind the audience's stares. The lackof a mirror kept her mind at ease.
"I couldn't see what was goingon, so I had to trust the stylists," she said.
Paul said he wanted to cut the layers out of Karen's long brown hair and give her a style more suitable to her 6-foot height.
Stone worked to accent Karen's green eyes. McKenzie selected a green dress to complete the look.
For Michelle, Paul chose a basic trim, giving the North Carroll High junior a slightly younger look with bangs. Stone added fresh, natural tones to complement Michelle's "great skin."
"I love my new look," said Michelle with a smile. Her boyfriend pronounced it "excellent."
While Michelle and Karen were transformed before the audience's eyes, Angela Barnhouse, Brandi Cook, Linda Curley and Evangelin Smith had a taste of the same treatment backstage.
They were treated to a mini-make-over with a Lancome representative and a hair style,compliments of the mall's Hair Cuttery. They also had access to a closet full of fall's latest fashions, about 30 pairs of shoes and every accessory imaginable.
Brandi, 13, of Finksburg, emerged within 15 minutes, with just a hint of blush, lipstick and light eyeliner. She said she would be glad to wear her outfit to her classes at West Middle School and
would check with her mother about buying the cardigan sweater and walking shorts.
"Brandi had a terrific hair cut already," said McKenzie. "We just pushed it back to show more of her face."
McKenzie fluttered among the "make-overs" like an anxious mother.
"Can you put Angie's hair up?" she asked the stylists.
Angela, 19, a Taneytown resident, said she loved all the attention.
"I would like to do this every day before I leave for work," she said,as she prepared to walk to the runway in a short, pleated skirt and plaid jacket. "Wait, I need shoes!"
McKenzie came to her rescue with a pair of dressy black pumps. She plowed through the accessories to find the perfect earrings for Angela.
"I need that," McKenzie said, grabbing a gold barrette for Angela, as a model returned it.
"Angela could wear this outfit to work and go right from the office toa night on the town," she said.
Nicky Smelser, Leggett's special events coordinator who helped pull the show together, asked 17-year-old Evangelin to return to the store for future modeling assignments.
The only backstage snag was finding a dress for Linda Curley, 42, whose family encouraged her to volunteer.
"Linda needs a petite style," McKenzie said. "Somebody go back to the store racks and find her something."
Within minutes, a size 4 royal-blue dress, ideally suited to Curley's blond hair and fair complexion, appeared.
"What does everybody think of our make-overs?" asked McKenzie at the show'sfinale. Applause and cheers were the answer.
She told everyone tolook for the "after" pictures in future Mademoiselle issues, adding that the Carroll audience might be looking at tomorrow's fashion models.