Late on a recent Saturday morning, the beautiful people arrived in downtown Greensboro in groups of ones, twos and threes, parking on side streets and flowing up Elm Street in a striking current that drew in its wake the gazes of brunchgoers and Pokémon hunters alike.
It’s not often that more than 100 fashion models converge on downtown Greensboro — the next time will be at Greensboro Fashion Week next month — but this time they came to rehearse. No makeup, no hairdos, just a uniform of plain blue jeans and plain white Ts, paired with basic heels.
They funneled through the gates of the Elm Street Center and down to a sub-floor, where masking tape outlined an approximation of the 76-foot catwalk. They dropped their large handbags and sat on the floor.
Greensboro Fashion Week is over after just four nights of runway shows, red-carpet walks, flash pops and parties. But thousands of human hours go into those few moments, spread across the entire year.
Here’s what you don’t see: a hundred models sitting on the floor, tucking their long legs beneath them, their discipline and attentiveness; Witneigh Davis and Giovanni Ramadani corralling this pool of talent into a fashion-forward corps with their words and their gestures.
They gather at the stage and, one by one, with electronic music filling the bright room, make their play down the catwalk.
Wit watched from a bank of sofas at the end of the thing, sometimes gesturing to Gio, who marched alongside the models as they walked, shouting instruction and encouragement — “You need to make the turn smooth, not so abrupt,” and, “Your right arm is hanging like it’s dead.”
Sometimes Wit would have him pull one from the line for a personal lesson in front of the room’s many mirrors.
They came at all skill levels — Fashion Week is as much about nurturing talent as it is a reinforcement of the city’s connection to the industry — and, though everyone’s physique was model-perfect, there was a refreshing array of body types that defied the uniformity of their attire.
As the models passed muster, they trickled up the stairs and back out onto the streets of downtown Greensboro, a drizzle of raw beauty as the afternoon ripened in the summer sun.
You don’t see much of that around here.