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"Trenton Makes" Runway Show Is Triumphant Inaugural Event
For MCCC Fashion Design Students


Trenton, N.J.  – Just call it the Mercer County Community College version of Project Runway.  For the very first time, MCCC’s Fashion/Apparel Design program hosted “Trenton Makes,”a runway show May 4 that provided four budding designers an opportunity to display their imaginative fashions in front of an admiring crowd at the college’s Trenton campus.

In her opening remarks, Fashion Program Coordinator Allegra Ceci, modeling a purple jacket designed by student Pina Succi, said, “This is a first for Mercer.  I am so proud of these students.  They dreamed these clothes, these fabrics and these looks.  Today, you will see 20 designs by our talented student designers.  This is a bonafide fashion show!”

Prior to the start, special guest Lori Ann Diaz, a regional manager for Gap Inc., presented scholarships to five students as part of the “Skills for America’s Future” initiative: Melissa Chell, Christina Guillaume, Alysha Mooring, Pina Succi (not present) and Ambreen Zaidi.

And then it was show time.  Set to the rhythmic beats provided by DJs Ralph Colon and Justin Solan, the models took to the runway.  Three designers, Ryan Ramoo of West Windsor, Shannon Rayniece of Trenton, and Tashanique Purnell of Trenton, delighted the audience with their bold use of color, fabrics and varied designs ranging from the frivolous and fun to professional outfits and evening wear.  A fourth student, Pina Succi, of Plainsboro, was unable to participate in the show, but displayed her fashions on mannequins.

MCCC alumni Tammy Duffy and Ray Brown, both of whom are professional fashion designers, were seated at the end of the runway, along with Diaz.  The three offered critiques to the students after their lines were shown. 

Fourteen models participated, ranging in age from a five-year-old boy modeling a hoodie, to teens, college students and moms.  The designers also created outfits for five Mercer staff members including Bursar Lucia Brown-Joseph, Allegra Ceci, President Patricia C. Donohue, Board member Pam Hersh and Trenton Campus Provost Monica Weaver.  Fashion student Diane Nelson did the staff members’ make-up.

Ramoo, a first-year fashion student from West Windsor, presented three designs.  In critiquing Ramoo’s work, Duffy said, “I love the colors and the mix of designs.  The looks are pretty.”  Duffy, owner of Duffy Design Studios, wore one of her own designs to the show, accessorized by a vintage hat.

Brown added that Ramoo is creating fashions for real people “You definitely have an eye for what you are doing.  Keep going.”  

Ramoo is planning to continue his studies at Mercer next year and then transfer to a four-year fashion school with a goal of combining his design work with fashion marketing.

Rayniece created seven designs for the show, including dress and jacket ensembles for President Donohue and Provost Weaver. Using reds and blacks with particular flair, the designer accessorized her evening wear by turning broken pieces of CDs into glittering jewels.

Duffy complimented the appeal of Rayniece’s designs. “They have a sophisticated edge, but the clothing still looks comfortable,” she said.   

In perhaps the most exciting comment of the critique, Diaz noted of the black leatherette dress sporting CD pieces, “I feel like I could see that dress in Banana Republic” (a Gap-owned store).

Trenton resident Tashanique Purnell was up next with eight designs.  Bursting with vibrancy, color and strokes of pure fashion fun, Purnell’s sensibility ranged from play clothes all the way to formal wear.
Judge Ray Brown was clearly enthused with her creativity.  “You put it together and you pulled it off.  Your choice of fabric and colors is highly interesting.  I can tell you played with it and had fun.”  

Diaz added, “You were not afraid to go bold.  All your looks are very unique.”

At the show’s conclusion, President Donohue took the microphone to congratulate one and all.  “Today we saw a different side of learning and student success at Mercer.  This is a memorable day for our Fashion Design program,” she said. She thanked everyone involved in the program, including adjunct professors who come from the fashion industry and bring the real world of fashion to the classroom.  She also thanked the many people who donated their time to making the event, especially the judges. 

As audience members headed for a reception following the show, the three designers expressed both joy and relief.  Purnell, who modeled one of her own designs in the show, noted that she had created the floor-length zipper dress only two days earlier.  “I have not gotten much sleep,” she said.

All three students say this is just the beginning of their studies and their careers.  Rayniece, who will complete her studies in December, is planning to transfer to continue her fashion studies.  She has set her sights on Moore College of Art in Philadelphia.

In her role as judge, Duffy notes that she thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  “I love working with the students.  They did a great job and demonstrated outstanding creativity and enthusiasm in the development of their collections.”  Duffy is planning to return to the campus to critique each designer’s work one-on-one.

Succi, the fashion student who was unable to participate in the show, still managed to sell an item in abstentia.  The shimmery purple jacket modeled by Ceci caught the eye of trustee Hersh, who decided to buy it on the spot and wore it out the door at the end of the festive afternoon on her way to her high school reunion.

More photos are available on Facebook here.

Mercer’s Fashion Design program offers A.A.S. degree options: Fashion/Apparel Design and Fashion Merchandising.  The programs prepare students for entry-level jobs and for transfer to four-year fashion design and merchandising schools.  For more information, visit www.mccc.edu.

Rayniece's models return to the runway.


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The grand finale included a return to the runway by all the models and designers.
Fashion professionals provided critiques of students' work. Pictured from left are the Gap's Lori Ann Diaz, and fashion designers Ray Brown and Tammy Duffy, both of whom are Mercer alumni.
The glamour of the day is captured in this design by Shannon Rayniece, modeled by fashion student Alysha Mooring.
Ryan Ramoo and his models listen to critiques from the fashion professionals.
Tashanique Purnell (partial view, far right) and her models listen to the critique from the judges.
Five students received scholarships from Gap Inc. as part of the "Skills for America's Future" scholarships. Pictured, from left, are Ambreen Zaidi, Christina Guillaume, Alysha Mooring, Melissa Chell, Fashion Program Coordinator Allegra Ceci and Gap Regional Manager Lori Ann Diaz. (Not pictured: scholarship recipient Pina Succi.)
Mercer models, from left, Trustee Pam Hersh, Fashion Program Coordinator Allegra Ceci, Bursar Lucia Brown-Joseph, Trenton Campus Provost Monica Weaver, and President Patricia C. Donohue, far right. Also pictured is make-up artist Diane Nelson, second from right.
Designs by Pina Succi, who was unable to participate in the show.