Madera South High School brings color to the runway and is already ahead of the game in the fashion world


Sarah Delgado

The final segment of the fashion show displayed models in outfits that make them feel the most empowered. (Sarah Delgado/ The Collegian)

By Sarah Delgado, Lifestyle Editor

This story was updated March 19, 2023 at 9:02 p.m.

“The World Is Your Runway” fashion show brought together youthful Fresno brands and upcoming high school fashion designers in a vibrantly diverse show at Madera South High School.

On March 3, this year’s theme for Madera South’s annual fashion show was embodying different cultures.

Although Fresno fashion experts brought together a cohesive set of collections, one showstopper was a student representing the queer community and models with disability in their work.

Madera showcased its local collectives, Fresno showed how they have strong designers in the fashion scene as well.

Shae Dellamaggiore, a student, designer and model for Madera South’s sixth annual fashion show, turned heads as they modeled in self-made designs and represented two minority demographics in the fashion world; the queer community and models with disabilities.

Dellamaggiore, who goes by they/them pronouns, is the designer of their self-made company, Shae’s Custom Outfits. They were the first designer to showcase two original crocheted items: a two-piece inspired by traditional Mexican folklorico dresses and another brown-colored two-piece set modeled by Dellamaggiore.

“As a kid, my family was very crafty. I started crocheting at 8, crocheting, sewing and knitting. I’ve been making my own jewelry since I realized at 10 [years old], it’s been a lifelong thing,” Dellamaggiore said.

Shae Dellamaggiore crocheted and modeled a two piece with influence from Mexican folklorico dresses. (Sarah Delgado/The Collegian)

Dellamaggiore was a frequent face on the runway, each time serving a fierce attitude with each garment they wore.

“It was really nice. Everyone was really supportive. It was nice to be out there, especially having representation for different groups. I’m disabled. I’m queer. And there’s a lot of representation today, and it was really nice to see all of that,” Dellamaggiore told The Collegian.

Dellamaggiore sold a majority of their clothing at the end of the show, and after encouragement from their peers, Dellamaggiore created an Instagram account to market their garments.

“I did sell most of them already. There’s still stuff out there. I am now on Instagram because people are wanting my Instagram. So I just made one like a few minutes ago,” they said.

After Dellamaggiore’s presentation, the runways were flooded with a takeover of formal wear.

Ms. Limón V’s collection took inspiration from the Yokut Choinumni tribes of the San Joaquin Valley. Models walked in loosely fitted garments, cinched by belts, to the sounds of Native American DJ Shub.

Ms. Limón V utilized drapery and belts to create a feminine figure. (Sarah Delgado/The Collegian)

Sunshine’s Custom Designs came to the fashion show with printed T-shirts, customized sneakers and a denim outfit with matching wide brim hat.

Dora Ryans, creator of Sunshine’s Custom Designs, said this was her first time showcasing a collection. The brand began at the beginning of COVID-19 in 2020.

“It was a blessing to see others interested in my items. They were just as excited as I was,” Ryans said.

One of Ryans’ designs, the Nike sneakers, were made from an old pair that her daughter had given her.

“Instead of throwing them away, I revamped them and now they’re new,” Ryans said. “The hats were too plain and boring, so I changed them to give them a different look.”

Many of her sneakers incorporated intricate rhinestone designs. Jackets were vibrant with different paisley prints and light wash denim.

“I hope people will be encouraged to step out of their comfort zone. You never know what blessings are waiting for you,” Ryans said.

House of Morii, founded by business partners Amanda Espindola and Jasmin Mejia, featured chic body-con dresses and a two-piece relaxed set. Many of the Madera South’s Fashion Club officers took part in modeling this collection.

Thrift Demon, a Fresno-based thrift store, brought a collection of modern fashion trends with an emphasis on sustainability. Thrift Demon offers quality second hand clothing and can be found at 1904 Fresno St.

Kordova presented a colorful collection of garments. From faux leather flare pants to a dazzling mini dress covered by a scarf of various flag printed textiles, the collection embraced relaxed and form-fitting silhouettes.

Mikey Garcia, designer of Kordova, closed the show with his hand-made collection. (Sarah Delgado/The Collegian)

Some models strutted in suits from Men’s Warehouse and others strided in quinceañera dresses. The dresses were from the models’ personal wardrobes to represent their Mexican culture.

Later in the show, Angel’s Bridal showed a collection of different gowns in time for the upcoming prom season.

Next up, Ari Rey, a Madera-based activewear brand, presented its collection with happy-go-lucky models wearing garments of bright neon colors. The collection consisted of matching sets, cargo pants and oversized T-shirts paired with biker shorts.

AriRey provides comfortability for its collection of activewear that can be found at Evolution Strength and Conditioning in Madera and online at (Sarah Delgado/The Collegian)

Arianna Reyes, the designer behind Ari Rey, founded the brand with a $5,000 tax refund in 2016.

“The World Is Your Runway” had a world culture theme, one highlight was the introduction of Yoztaltepetl traditions. Aztec dancers, led by Gloria Guerrero, filled the space with colorful headdresses and the sound of rattling ankle braces. Their performance amplified the stage with vigor, resistance and the embracing of Aztec society.

Gloria Vander Laan and Araceli Witters, the faculty advisers for Madera South’s Fashion Club, introduced the fashion club officers to the audience.

Natalia Sandoval, the president of the fashion club, was behind the scenes the entire time making sure that the fashion show was running smoothly.

“I was very excited because I helped them with practice. I was in the background. Instead of modeling, I would help with the music. When I saw it all come together, I was just so excited to see my vision,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval told The Collegian that before she was elected president of the fashion club, she was an usher, so managing backstage duties was hardly challenging for her.

“​​This year, I got elected president. So yeah, I wanted to help more backstage and it was chaotic, but it was worth it,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval said her favorite part of the show was seeing alumni present their personal styles in their garments.

“When the alumni came, it was so cool. Seeing all these people from different years, graduating coming together again in Madera. And I thought that was really cool,” she said.

The 2023 Madera South Fashion Club officers and advisers. (Sarah Delgado/The Collegian)

Ortiz Western Wear, a featured brand in the fashion show, represented traditional Mexican guayaberas in its collection. Its models danced to ranchera music while walking on the runway.

A Madera South alumna, Mary Idowu, followed up with her brand Majo, taking direct inspiration from her Nigerian heritage.

Models walked down the runway in printed garments with Idowu herself walking in a bright yellow dress.

“I hope the community can take in the beauty of my culture and even peak an interest in getting to know more about African culture and its roots in the fashion industry,” Idowu said.

The garments were loose fitting and decorated with matching printed scarves. The traditional garments, ankara, lace, and kampala are considered everyday wear in Nigeria. The textiles used to craft the traditional pieces was from wax ankara, asoke and kampala.

“It’s funny when I wear them here in America. People think I’m dressing extravagantly, but this is the daily norm [in Nigeria],” Idowu said. “The inspiration was to bring the daily norm into this society and even encourage my fellow Africans to dress up in their native attires and feel at home again.”

Yua Cha, a special education staff member at Madera South, presented Hmong outfits in the show.

Models were dressed in outfits representative of the culture with head dresses and accessories added. Traditionally, the outfits are crafted with hemp fabric and are embroidered with intricate designs.

The models appeared in vests with silver coins, dresses with criss-crossed patterns and the vivid colors of red, green and yellow.

Vander Laan, the adviser for the fashion club, told The Collegian that she was very emotional.

“When I see the students express themselves… I cried probably like 10 times tonight. It was very amazing. I just love how they begin to open up and just express themselves in a beautiful way,” Vander Laan said.

Madera South Fashion Club hosts fashion shows to raise money for the Fashion Institute of Technology and Merchandising annual fashion show that the club attends every year.

The show ended with models wearing garments that showcases their identities and personal style. The advisers, Araceli Witters (left) and Gloria Vander Laan (right), spent an entire year planning the fashion show. (Sarah Delgado/The Collegian)

Vander Laan hopes to bring the community together as she promotes local fashion into her events. “I feel like a lot of places need to unite together and just glean off each other’s creativity and knowledge. When we come together, it becomes an incredible feat,” she said.

Vander Laan hopes that more Madera students are willing to try out to be models for next year.