Bouncing up and down on top of four-inch sparkly silver platform high heels while wearing a slinky blue-and-green sequined gown, Kourtny Keller, 14, could not contain her enthusiasm.
“It’s so pretty, it’s so sparkly,” she gushed about the gown, twisting to and fro in front of a full length mirror. “I feel all dolled up.”
Evening wear isn’t normal attire for this Napa High student. But she had good reason to be trying on the dress — today, she and a group of other young women, and men, will model the latest bridal, prom and quinceañera wear at a local fashion show.
On Thursday night, the group met to practice for the event. Hosted by Anna’s Bridal Boutique, this is the 13th year the store has produced the show, said the mother and daughter owners, Anna and Olga Alfaro. “Ever since then, it’s been getting bigger and bigger,” Olga Alfaro said.
More than 200 bridal, prom and quinceañera dresses available for purchase will be modeled, she said. The formal frocks came in a wide range of colors including hot pink, red, aqua, yellow and black. Almost all were long, heavily beaded and featured full, puffy skirts. Bridal gowns are presented at the first show, followed by a second show for prom and quinceañera — the traditional celebration of a Hispanic girl’s 15th birthday. Many quinceañera celebrations include a party where the young woman wears a formal ball gown.
This fashion show will be part show, part party. Besides showing off the elaborate evening wear, the event also includes skits pantomimed by the models to popular and classic songs, including Latin salsa, classic jazz and more recent hits like “Hey Ya!” by OutKast and “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO.
“It’s fun and energetic,” Olga Alfaro said. The customers like to see the latest dress styles and trends, she said. And the young women on stage get a chance to be a model for a day.
Several weeks ago, Alfaro hosted an open “casting” call for any girl interested in modeling at the show. From there, she assembles a group who are committed to up to 10 practices, some lasting up to three hours.
Which leads back to Keller. She had visited the store to pick out her own quinceañera dress when she heard of the show.
Being a model “is awesome,” the teenager said enthusiastically. “We get to have our hair and makeup done and wear really cute shoes” — not to mention the elaborate gowns themselves.
“I feel like a princess,” said Graciela Rodriguez, 27, as she stood in the middle of the store wearing a tiered white satin wedding dress. Kneeling at her feet, which were covered by the many folds of the gown, Anna Alfaro created a temporary hem to allow the model make her way safely down the runway.
This is her third appearance in an Anna’s fashion show, Rodriguez said.
“This is my hobby,” said the young woman, who is completing her masters in social work while working at Napa Emergency Women's Services (NEWS). “Social work is my passion,” but through modeling, she’s learned confidence and how to present herself better in public, Rodriguez said.
The boutique recently moved several doors down the block to a new location on Clinton Street. The fashion show will be held at the store’s original location, which offers more space for a stage and stairs, said Olga Alfaro, who expects more than 100 guests to attend the shows.
Starting the music at Thursday’s practice, both Anna and Olga Alfaro watched carefully as each model practiced her twists and turns down an imaginary catwalk. Smiling at an invisible audience as they proceeded, the young women stopped and posed on cue, just as the Alfaro’s had taught them.
As each finished her turn down the aisle, mom and daughter clapped with approval. Creating the show is a lot of work, Olga Alfaro said, but “it’s a lot of fun.”