Big Rapids represented for first time at Style Battle

Team demonstrates creativity in putting together high-fashion fall looks for style competition

GRAND RAPIDS – After four hours of applying makeup with painstaking care, arranging hair to complete a “funky,” high-fashion look and making last-minute wardrobe adjustments, five models emerged as works of art to represent Fairman’s Apparel in Style Battle 2011 on Thursday.

FASHION TEAM: The Fairman's Apparel team gathers after the competition on Thursday. (From left to right) Tamika Hitts, Maryrose Cook, Brooke Robison, Kathy Straley, Rickey Aldrich, Marco Kozar, Emily Robison, Megan Kellow and Lyndsay Pepper pose for a group shot. Photographer Ryan Pavlovich is not pictured.

Models, two stylists, a photographer and a retailer made up each of 10 teams competing to show off their style at the second-annual fashion event held at The Intersection in Grand Rapids. This was the first time a Big Rapids team competed in the event.

Simply providing a good final photo or pulling off a charismatic runway walk was not enough to win the competition; 500 audience members and a panel of six judges took into account the whole creative process of preparing for the show as they were free to wander from set to set and interact with stylists and models as they worked.

For the Big Rapids-based Fairman’s Apparel team, the only team from outside Grand Rapids, Style Battle was a chance to show off its members’ creativity.

LIGHTING UP: Hairstylist Rickey Aldrich, owner of Natural Beauty Salon and Day Spa, weaves lights through the hair of model Megan Kellow, a Ferris State University student.

“It’s absolutely amazing; I love it,” said Rickey Aldrich, hairstylist for the team and owner of Natural Beauty Salon and Day Spa, at the beginning of the competition. “If I could do it every day, I would.”

After four hours of styling five girls’ hair, one of which had lights woven through it, Aldrich’s enthusiasm hadn’t faded.

“I wish it would go on,” she said. “I wouldn’t change a thing, it was so fun. It went really fast. I loved it.”

Aldrich coordinated the team and entered it in the competition after watching her twin sister, Angie Williams, compete in it as a makeup artist for the winning team last year. Williams won again with Lia Rose this year, and while Aldrich admitted a friendly sibling rivalry, she said she’d like to be on the same team with Williams next year.

STRONG STYLE: Model Lindsay Pepper walks the runway at Style Battle, which was held at The Intersection in Grand Rapids. (Pioneer photos/Lauren Fitch)

Kathy Straley, owner of Fairman’s Apparel, and Emily Robison, owner of The Sole, provided wardrobe for the event. Marco Kozar, of M.A.C. Cosmetics in Grand Rapids, did makeup. Ryan Pavlovich, of Ryan Pavlovich photography in Grand Rapids, conducted the photo shoot. Ferris State University students Brooke Robison, Megan Kellow, Tamika Hitts, Maryrose Cook and Lindsay Pepper modeled the looks.

One model was selected by Jerrad Matthew to receive a contract with Matthew Agency Models and Talent. Megan Umulis, competing for Lee & Birch, took that prize. Lia Rose took the top $2,000 prize for receiving the most audience votes the second year in a row. Judges picked Pink Blvd. to receive a $1,000 prize.

While Fairman’s Apparel did not receive any cash prizes, the experience was still rewarding.

“It was mind-blowing. It was one of the greatest things ever,” said Tamika Hitts, who modeled for the first time at Style Battle.

Walking the runway was intense, she said, as she focused simply on not falling.

“I would be willing to do this again, 10 times over,” Hitts said. “It was so much fun.”

Teri Hook, model Lindsay Pepper’s mother, admitted the wait was long as the team prepared each model. Getting to see her daughter on the runway made it worthwhile.

“What comes across when she’s doing her photo shoots – it’s not the Lindsay I knew of five or six years ago,” Hook said. “She has a knack for it. Obviously, I think she’s beautiful no matter what. But I think she really comes across nicely in photo shoots. I really like to see her work in front of the camera.”

Pepper had prior modeling experience, participating in an International Modeling and Talent Association competition in Los Angeles a few years ago.

Aldrich was optimistic going into the runway show, the last part of the competition, and remained satisfied after hearing the

PHOTO SHOOT: (From left to right) Model Tamika Hitts, photographer Ryan Pavlovich, hairstylist Rickey Aldrich and makeup artist Marco Kozar review photos during Style Battle.

results.

“Now that (our models) have the complete look with the hair and makeup and clothes, they’re going to have an extra confidence that they didn’t have before, and they’re going to work it,” she said. “I wouldn’t change a thing. It was perfect. … The girls exceeded my expectations on the overall look. It was beautiful.”

A high-energy atmosphere kept the competition entertaining for spectators. With DJs performing and a bar, attendees were free to socialize while roaming around the venue to watch groups execute their unique looks.

“It’s fun,” said Emily Robison. “When we first got here, I was like ‘Oh, this is it?’ But then the music started playing and the lights went down. I love it. … (The teams are) all very creative with pretty girls.”

Each team had a 10-by-12-foot area for all their preparations and photos.

Fairman’s Apparel went with a neutral gray background to highlight the fall fashions its models wore. They divided up the four-hour time limit between hair and makeup, spending about 35 minutes on each, before sending the models to the photo shoot.

The sold-out event donated a dollar from every ticket to the Grand Rapids Red Project, a group dedicated to stopping the spread of HIV and hepatitis while promoting healthy life choices.

While the Fairman’s Apparel team did not have a local advantage, a good-sized group of supporters crowded around its set throughout the competition, which gave Aldrich an extra boost.

“It’s exciting. I love it – not even an ounce of being nervous,” she said.

Visit the photo gallery to see more photos from Style Battle 2011.

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