They're all poised to learn

Modeling: Seminars at Columbia Teen Center give girls grooming and fashion tips - and a boost in confidence.

January 30, 2001|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

To Theresa Gargon and Victoria Tamburo, the girls gathered in a room at Columbia Teen Center are all beautiful.

The group members, with heads back and shoulders squared, walk an imaginary runway as faux fashion models. Hip-hop booms throughout the room as the girls sashay.

"Remember," Tamburo calls out over the pulsing beat of the music. "There is no wrong way to do it. Just relax and have fun!"

The supermodels-in-training were part of a six-week workshop that teaches teen-age girls everything from fashion tips to how to store their shoes. The classes are the brainchild of Gargon and Tamburo, whose company Dress to Impress specializes in corporate wardrobe seminars, fashion event productions and personal consultations.

"We both have modeled for years and have been friends for years," Gargon said. "We thought that a good way to take the business would be to work with young people."

Their seminars cover a wide range of topics - from hair and skin care to healthy eating habits in once-a-week meetings. Speakers include hairdressers, manicurists and makeup artists who visit and share their tips with the girls.

Tamburo, a former fashion reporter with the now-defunct "Evening Magazine" television show, said the seminar is a way to help girls feel better about themselves.

"We feel like whatever we can do to raise their self-confidence is so beneficial," Tamburo said. "It's a difficult world, a competitive world and the better you feel about yourself, the better you will be able to handle that."

Attitude was not a problem for the 10 girls gathered on a recent Wednesday night at the Teen Center. They strolled, they pivoted and they smiled with enough verve to make Cindy Crawford proud.

"I've been wanting to model ever since I was a little girl," said 14-year-old Ahlia Ritchie. "I watch the Style channel every day, and I try to walk like they walk."

Her mother, Christine Ritchie, said she has noticed a difference in her daughter since she enrolled her in the seminar.

"There has definitely been a change in her confidence," the elder Ritchie said. "There is a little bit more self-esteem and more motivation in other areas."

At a willowy 5-foot-7, 14-year-old Aubrey Faigenbaum has already adopted the model look. With her hair piled atop her head and wearing a Tommy Hilfiger T-shirt and relaxed jeans, she looked ready to dash off to her next photo shoot with a fashion photographer.

"Everyone has told me my entire life that I should be a model," the River Hill High School freshman said. "It all seems like fun."

After getting hair care advice for her wayward curls from stylist Jodie Bedell of Patrick's Hair Design in Columbia, 14-year-old Teresa Castillo said she expects to use a lot of the information she is learning at the seminar.

"I will have learned how to walk," said Teresa, a freshman at Long Reach High School. "I'll also know how to better do my makeup and my hair."

Bobbie Whyte, supervisor of programming for Columbia Teen Center, said she has had positive feedback on the seminar.

"I try to look for all kinds of different activities for the teens," Whyte said. "There didn't seem to be any programs in Columbia that addressed modeling for teens."

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