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Students dazzle at Fun Fashion for All Show

Mackay Centre students celebrate before the Fun Fashion for All Show on June 9.
Mackay Centre students celebrate before the Fun Fashion for All Show on June 9.
Montreal - Monday, November 28, 2022

What happens when Mackay Centre School Grade 5 and 6 students, their educators, rehab staff and administrators, a choreographer and a fashion designer collaborate? Pure magic! The school community discovered this at the Fun Fashion for All Show.

On June 9, excitement filled the air at this English Montreal School Board (EMSB) school located in NDG. Upon arrival, students were greeted by a team of Laurier Macdonald Career Centre (EMSB) Hairdressing and Aesthetics students. They had already set up a makeshift salon in classrooms and were ready to put the finishing touches on the student models before they walked the runway.

The Fun Fashion for All project was conceptualized and spearheaded by Bella Flanz, who at the time of the show was a Grade 5 reverse integration student at the Mackay Centre School. Bella was inspired by Canadian fashion designer Izzy Camilerri, whose IZ Adaptive line, created in 2009, is designed specifically for wheelchair users.

Bella’s mission was to make fun fashion accessible to her Cycle 3 classmates. “I realized that clothes may be hard to put on for many students. My grandmother has Parkinson’s, and it’s hard for her as well,” she said. “So, I thought why not bring colour, fashion and accessibility together and share it with everybody.”

Montreal designer Simon Chang was thrilled to be invited to join the team as guest fashion advisor. As he got to know the students over several months, he was continuously impressed by their focus, creativity and growth. Chang encouraged them to use fashion as a tool to tell their own unique stories. “I told the students to take chances and create something new with their own vision. There is no wrong way to be creative.”

Chang provided painting and colour story demonstrations and accessorized the students’ outfits with cool pieces like an Elvis-themed jacket, a superhero cape, hats and shades, and an LED bag on a wheelchair.

The show began with a group number choreographed by Luca “Lazylegz” Patuelli, followed by show-stopping solo and duo struts down the runway. Patuelli guided the students in formulating their own moves based on their personalities. “Students could express themselves through their fashion, and if they were shy about fashion, they could express themselves through dance or movement,” he said. “Every student shone in their own way. That’s the beauty of art. It gives you that moment to be you.”

Bella, whose slowly executed back flip move on the runway allowed for ample time to admire her poppy-themed outfit, learned some unexpected lessons in planning the show. “No matter if something is perfect or not, it is always beautiful. I like to make the clothes look perfect, but I needed to forget about that! What matters is the effort you put into something,” she said.

Bella’s teacher Christina Sollazzo witnessed remarkable progression in her students. She recalled how their apprehension to create turned to excitement the moment their hands touched the materials Chang provided them with. “It was one of the only projects I’ve seen where all the students were happy to be involved throughout the whole process. No one backed down even if they were nervous,” she said. “It was more than just a fashion show. It was a project that included everyone and showed that fashion can be accessible for all.”

Final words from Bella sum it all up: “Everyone should get a chance to do something fun. Who doesn’t like fun?”

A few more words:

In our society today, there is very much a sea of sameness. In this show, each student made their own individual statement. You are talented, brave individuals. I am so proud of you. — Simon Chang

Be extremely proud of what you accomplished. You are the future for all of us!   — Luca “Lazylegz” Patuelli

Keep shining, keep being you and showing yourself through your projects. Work together in a team because that’s how we build a community. This project definitely showed a community.  —Christina Sollazzo

Watch CTV National News’ report here: https://