Prom Wish Granted by Alumnus Designer Larry Lewis
The Fashion Design classroom was teeming with opinions and advice this past Monday as students helped EMT senior Jamaya Bense modeled several handmade, designer gowns for them. Bense was the lucky recipient of a generous “prom wish” offer from North Tech alumnus Larry Lewis.
Lewis, who graduated in 2015 from North Tech, had been interested in fashion design since childhood. After earning his Associates Degree from Florissant Valley Community College, Lewis worked briefly in the customer service industry before making the decision to give his full attention to fulfilling his dream of becoming a designer.
In 2017, he participated in his first fashion show. That evening, he had acquired 10 orders for designs created during a “sewing live” portion of the program. In just 18 months, he has opened a Central West End Boutique, developed a large following on Instagram and Twitter of his ZaynBlitz Collection, and participated in several fashion shows and features. His success has inspired him to share his passion and his talents with others.
“Larry called me and said “I want to give back to my school, I want to grant a prom wish,” said Dr. Wallace, North Tech Assistant Principal. Lewis wanted to reward a deserving North Tech student with one of his designer gowns, a makeover and hairstyling session, and a nail salon experience. He asked that the student be in good standing with high grades and attendance and to be someone who wouldn’t otherwise be able to provide these items and experiences for themselves.
Dr. Wallace chose Bense, who couldn’t be more grateful and excited. “I was so stressed about getting a dress,” she said. Considering the costs of prom can average $900 or more, her stress is not uncommon. When students purchase tickets, transportation, gowns, shoes, accessories, and beauty services, prom can quickly add up. Lewis’ gowns start at $500 for his own creations and $1000 for custom designs. By giving Bense both the gown and services, the value of his donation is well above $1000.
Bense tried on 5 of Lewis’ own designs for her fellow students while Lewis shared his passion for his profession, answered questions, and shared advice with our fashion design seniors. “If this is for you, then it’s for you! Passion is critical. You will fail before you succeed so you need that drive,” he told them. He also applauded seniors in the program who are designing their own gowns for prom, saying that showed real dedication.
Bense did choose one of the designs but won’t reveal which one until she arrives at North Tech’s prom on April 26, 2019. Be sure to watch our social media channels for a photo of Bense at the event! You can check out Lewis collection on Instagram @zaynblitzco.