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  • Hector Amezcua /

    Runway instructor and fashion choreographer Gerry Simpson, left, coaches first-time models Julius Smith of Sacramento and Hanna Coons of Vacaville in a workshop as part of Sacramento Fashion Week downtown on Tuesday.

  • Hector Amezcua /

    Jessica McKinley of Sacramento, center, stands as instructed by Gerry Simpson, runway instructor & fashion choreographer of LA Fashion Week.

  • Hector Amezcua /

    Jessica McKinley of Sacramento listens to runway modeling tips in a Sacramento Fashion Week workshop Tuesday.

Fashion hopefuls undertake a runway boot camp

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 - 11:15 pm

When it comes to being a runway model, walking is more than putting one foot in front of the other.

At one point in a two-hour boot camp, runway coach Gerry Simpson asked novice model Hanna Coons to start over four times. Pause longer, relax your hands, turn your lead foot out and show more energy were some of the instructions from the seasoned coach giving a crash course in runway modeling for a group of a dozen as part of Sacramento Fashion Week.

In its eighth year, Fashion Week aims to elevate the capital city’s style sense while highlighting some of the best Northern California designers, said producer Duane Ram. The week of events is highlighted by designer showcases Friday and Saturday night at the California Auto Museum. Ram said the event started slowly as a passion project, but has grown each year. Ram said he scouts year around for the tall, lean figures the fashion industry craves.

Tuesday’s boot camp, in a vacant storefront at Sacramento’s Downtown Plaza, included a more eclectic mix of models, including several children. It got off to a slow start – at the 4 p.m. announced start time there were only two participants. The numbers eventually grew, and the nervous Fashion Week interns – who had been drafted as fill-ins and wanted nothing to do with modeling – were allowed to slink back into the background.

With the energetic Simpson eyeballing every step, it turns out walking down a runway is more technical than one might think. Above all, models should move with efficiency and grace. Each movement is purposeful without looking measured.

“Get used to the camera,” Simpson implored. “The most important thing you want to do is look comfortable.”

“Why are you scared … 25 people in this room? When the show comes there will be hundreds,” he said.

Coons was one of the tall, lean figures Ram coaxed into giving it a shot.

“It’s overwhelming, but exciting,” said Coons, of Vacaville. “I’ve never walked in heels before. It’s a lot harder than it looks.”

And for models in training, Simpson offers these pearls of wisdom:

• “Your best friend is your full-length mirror.”

• “You have to know when less is more.”

• “When you’re modeling it’s not about you, it’s about selling.”

• “If you fall, go gracefully.”

Call The Bee’s Ed Fletcher, (916) 321-1269. Follow him on Twitter @NewsFletch.

Read more articles by Ed Fletcher

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