Fashionista is Back!

FYI’s Fashionista project is the brainchild of our Group Leader Fatima Guzman.  Fatima has a background in design and loves to bring that passion to our youth. But Fashionista is so much more than fashion…the FYI Fashionista project is an exercise in imagination, commitment, self-confidence, and even math! 

Our designers collect “trash” for weeks, items like plastic bottles, potato chip bags, cardboard boxes and more. Once the project begins, with help from Fatima and other staff, our young designers seek inspiration by researching designs and brainstorming together.  Then, using their treasure trove of candy wrappers, bottle caps, and more, they spend weeks creating and executing their patterns.  One of this year’s Fashionistas who is both designing and modeling said “I feel like a good person because instead of just throwing papers and stuff away, I save them and think about how I can use them to make something.”

Of course, what is fashion without an audience?  In addition to the actual design and creation of the stunning recycled fashion-pieces, the Fashionistas pull together an incredible runway show.  This year, one of our former interns has come back to volunteer her time to Fashionista.  Skakira choreographed an incredible sequence for the show and they have been rehearsing for weeks – they have even been coming to FYI for weekend rehearsals!  Last year after seeing the show, the Principal from one of our partner middle schools commended our Fashionistas on the skills they used in performing the routine – they used  “sequencing, memory and spatial concepts which are necessary for academic learning.”

Seeing the models on the runway, you would think they were all born to be on the stage but the truth is that most of them were really nervous and shy to walk the runway in front of the crowd.  By working with Fatima, Shakira and other FYI staff, they made tremendous leaps in their self-confidence – not to mention their posture!  They also learned how much time and energy (mental and physical) goes into a show of this magnitude.  Each one of them said that this was “way more work” than they thought it would be, but not a single one would think of quitting!

FYI’s third annual Fashionista show will be held on Saturday, May 3rd  at 2:00 p.m. at Opus Lounge, located at 417 W. 202nd Street in Inwood. To join us, please RSVP to