The Lewis Theater stage transformed into a massive catwalk dotted with student models sashaying in on-trend jumpsuits, glamorous gowns, and sumptuous sari-based ensembles on Fri., Apr. 5. The occasion was the annual PUNCH (People United for New Creative Hunches) fashion show, a beloved tradition that for 22 years has showcased and nurtured student creativity, leadership, and entrepreneurial spirit.
Shaylah Nunn Jones '99 and Alix Kram '98 first had the idea for a school fashion show while riding the bus to Holton one day in 1997, and this seed rapidly evolved into a thriving creative community and much-anticipated annual event. Each year, a group of dedicated students comes together to design and sew all the pieces, find and train models, and produce the show, including creating and running lighting and sound. They are supported along the way by committed educators like veteran advisor Marsha Scherbel, co-advisor Tiffany Reddinger, technical director Mark Robinson, and box office manager Sarah Roney.
PUNCH 2019 featured 23 student designers and over 100 participants, and proceeds of ticket sales supported two clothing-
related charities: Suited for Change and Dress a Girl Around the World. Show highlights, says Mrs. Scherbel, included innovative full lines by co-presidents Serena Chon '19 and Grace Huntington '19, the first-ever line of handmade ceramic jewelry by Caroline Cascio '19, lines inspired by and made from recycled saris respectively by Meghan Ahluwalia '20 and Jenna Mohiuddin '20, and a line paying homage to African American fashion and beauty by Olivia Boykin '20 and Maya Gaines '19.
Grace says that PUNCH is a tremendous confidence-builder for participants, allowing them to try new things, take chances, and take ownership. "Girls who display their works of art on stage, as well as the models, are taking a risk and showing a lot of courage—it's the epitome of girl power," she says.
Serena is also drawn to PUNCH's unique brand of female empowerment. "At an all-girls school," she says, "it is nice to have an opportunity to celebrate those artforms that have been traditionally dominated by women specifically, like handicraft and sewing. I believe that the education I received at Holton affirms womanhood by not forcing women to imitate male standards for achievement in the arts."
Grace notes that the high level of student participation and excitement that surrounds the show underscore the important role that PUNCH serves at the school. This popularity shows "that our community loves to collaborate and that we all desire to give back to our greater community in a variety of ways," she says. One important way, she notes, is through PUNCH's philanthropic aspect.
For me, she says, "it's very important to use my creative talents in order to benefit others."
Mrs. Scherbel is thrilled with PUNCH 2019's success and remains in awe of the students. "I am always so proud of the talent, creativity, hard work, and dedication they put into this endeavor while also managing so many other obligations," she says.
View photo highlights from PUNCH 2019 here: