A glittering gala for scholarships

Woodbury University's Department of Fashion Design threw a gala Sunday night that was so spectacular, it could have rivaled a film awards show.

Set against the flashy backdrop of the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, the 42nd annual student fashion show drew nearly 600 guests. The Burbank university's administrators, instructors, students and their families and friends were all dressed to the hilt.

Funds raised from the $250 per-person ticket will go to student scholarships. The gala is a vital source of funding for scholarships, officials said, because 86% of the students require financial aid and more than 70% are the first in their family to attend college. The goal was to raise $120,000 this year. Last year, the gala raised $102,000, officials said.

The evening began with a reception that featured a silent auction, followed by dinner and fashion show of students' designs.

This year's theme, "Prism Futura," was inspired by British fashion designer extraordinaire Zandra Rhodes, who received the Woodbury Design Award.

Rhodes, best known for dressing rock stars and actors, has also designed jewelry, porcelain for Royal Doulton and costumes and sets for San Diego Opera productions of Mozart's "The Magic Flute" and Bizet's "The Pearl Fishers." Several of the women in the audience were wearing her dresses created in vibrant colors and softly flowing materials.

Sharing the Woodbury Citizen of the Year Award were Ronald E. Soderling from Woodbury's Class of 1957, and his wife, Gail, and S. Jerome Tamkin and his wife, Judith, from Woodbury's Class of 1949.

The award goes to those who embody the best characteristics of our country ? hard work, success, compassion, community, integrity and philanthropy, officials said.

A panel of fashion professionals pre-selected 150 out of 350 student designs to be featured in a professionally produced fashion show with high-energy music and edgy lighting effects. Every guest got a close-up look of the models on two screens flanking the runway.

Achievement awards were presented in five categories to senior students. Amanda Bear took home two awards, one for Technical Merit and another for Senior Achievement. Other honors went to Mackenzie Borges, Best of Couture; Stephanie Dodge, Creative Merit; and Felicia Gaxiola, Overall Concept.

The show's grand finale featured models wearing Rhodes' collection of wispy styles in sumptuous colors.

Welcoming guests were Woodbury University President Kenneth R. Nielsen, of La Cañada Flintridge, and event chairman Arthur Zenian.

Jeff Bryan, wardrobe/ costume creator for "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," dressed in a jacket splattered with flowers for his master of ceremonies duties.

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