Dim the lights, cue the music and in 3, 2, 1 go…
On November 9 Vinyl Music Hall was transformed into a masterpiece of fashion, lights, music and anticipation. Monde Fashion Show, in support of Andrews Research & Education Foundation (AREF), welcomed guests into an immersive experience that broke out of the confines of a traditional fundraiser and brought the New York City fashion scene to the heart of Downtown Pensacola.
Seven months ago I was approached to model for the show and happily agreed. Little did I know the amount of work, talent and planning that was already being poured into the event, and it wasn’t until after the show that I needed to know how an event like this came to fruition.
In 2021 a Commercial Real Estate Broker who just moved back to Pensacola, Jenny Noonan, approached Julia Ussery of Scout Boutique in hopes of putting on a fashion event that would blow Pensacola away and that’s exactly what they did.
“Events like these help change towns,” said Jenny Noonan, Event Chair. “That’s one of the reasons I wanted to do a show like this. People look at this and say, ‘this town is evolving, I could live there.’”
Jenny knew if she wanted the show to be a success and to the caliber she envisioned Julia Ussery was her girl. Julia, Pensacola native and owner of Scout Boutique, attended Parsons School of Design in New York. Upon graduating, she quickly found herself working at Calvin Klein where in 11 years she would work her way up from an Assistant Designer to a Design Director.
Julia agreed to do the show with Jenny and then chose a few select individuals who would be key in bringing the show to life. Julia’s daughter, Sophie Ussery, served as the show’s Production Manager and Macey Hicks served as the Assistant Creative Director and lead model alongside An Hayward.
“The three of us got to decide everything and that was really important. Sophie, Macey and I decided on the music, the models, the gift bags, the invites, the way the napkins looked, literally every single little detail,” said Julia. “It was really important because we wanted the message to be laser focused all the way through, and the fact that the core of the show was just the three of us is unbelievable. I am super proud of them.”
This event is only in its second year and I have a feeling we only just scratched the surface of what Julia Ussery is capable of. It’s also clear the talent doesn’t fall far from the tree as her daughter Sophie equally impressed.
“I think it was really cool working with my mom and Macey. We all had the exact same idea of what we wanted and had the same vision. Watching our vision come to life and managing the production of the show was my favorite part,” said Sophie Ussery, Production Manager.
After nine months of planning, it was showtime. It was time for the rest of us to see the time, energy and heart that these three women dedicated to a 42 minute show. A 42 minute show that would include: 80 looks from Scout Boutique worn by 20 different models, handmade accessories by Pins and Needles, a live performance by Jordan Chase from season 17 of The Voice, a light show by the Snider Bros. LLC, decor by Shannon Pallin of Fiore and a packed house of 450 attendees.
“Fashion shows aren’t just about clothes anymore,” said Julia. “They’re a form of entertainment and a celebration. If you don’t love fashion that’s okay, you’re still going to enjoy the show. We wanted Monde to be a feast for the eyes.”
The pre-production of the show was in the works for 9 months. Julia, Sophie and Macey went to market in New York City and started envisioning the concept of the show. When they returned home, they started working out all the details. The who, what and where. Fast forward to the last 24 hours before the show and it was all hands on deck.
The other models and I arrived at Vinyl where we would go into hair and makeup. Our cohesive hair style was lead by Ruben Colon out of New York City and a team of local stylists from Volume One Salon. Colon just served as a stylist on the most recent season of Project Runway and dazzled us all with his talent and “facelift’ bun tutorial.
After hair, we went into makeup by Jessica Bosley and her team of makeup artists where they gave us a heavy application of eyeliner mimicking an exaggerated cat eye.
Once we were completely ready and backstage, the real chaos ensued. Imagine 20 different clothing racks with 5-10 looks, twenty models and 30 ‘dressers’ (extra hands helping models change quickly). Every rack of clothing included a poster board with a polaroid for every piece of clothing and every accessory to ensure you’re wearing the correct items with the correct outfit.
“The run of show is the hardest part. What models are wearing, what models are sharing shoes and the timing between looks. It’s like a giant rubik’s cube,” said Macey Hicks, Assistant Creative Director.
As crazy as the last minutes before the show were, it might have been my favorite part. All the models are dressed, coiffed, made up and lined up ready to walk the runway. Julia is tweaking this fit and that bow. Ruben and his assistant are spritzing one last spritz of hairspray to secure the hairstyles. And you can just tell everyone is excited to see the results of all their hard work finally realized. The music started, the excitement heightened, the adrenaline kicked in and the show was started and ended before I could let me nerves get the best of me.
Luckily for those who weren’t in the audience, the final product of nine months was captured beautifully by two extremely talented individuals. Carlos David Bown of Bown Media captured the show impeccably through video and Steven Gray captured the intensity, drama and details through photographs.
To say I was impressed by these women and the production of MONDE is an understatement. I was mind blown, and I knew it was something I wanted to write about and share with a broader audience. As the numbers are finalized, I look forward to learning about the positive impact the show will have Andrews Research & Education Foundation (AREF). Stay tuned for a full review on how one night will continue to support their groundbreaking care and mission to be a leader be a leader in the field of musculoskeletal research and education. Congratulations on what many are saying is the best event they’ve been to all year.
“So many women coming together, that’s what really impressed me the most and what I’m most proud of,” said Jenny Noonan. “Thats what community is though.”