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Back-to-School: 27 young women audition, 18 chosen as models for this weekend’s fashion show at Tacoma Mall

Some made saucy turns, some seemed nervous. Some seemed to enjoy themselves while others strode the 30-foot-long plywood runway at Tacoma Mall as if they would have preferred to keep walking, headed elsewhere, out of the spotlight and away from the appraising eyes of the judges.

So it was on Wednesday afternoon as 27 young women auditioned for the chance to model back-to-school ensembles at a fashion show scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at the mall.

Ryan Egardo, 17, will be a senior and a cheerleader at Lakes High School beginning this fall.

“I’ve always had a passion for doing things like modeling and acting,” she said, waiting her turn, with toenails painted a blazing electric pink.

“I was walking at the mall and I saw an advertisement,” she said. “I figured that I might as well try it.”

She said she typically spends $300 to $400 on school clothes, but this year, now that she has a job working at Blackberry Yogurt in Lakewood, she will double that.

“This year all of my paychecks go to shopping at the mall,” she said.

And what will young women be wearing this fall?

“Lots of high-waisted jeans,” she said. “Flannels are coming back, and Vans are making a comeback.”

For those not in the know, Vans is a brand of shoes.

“I want to find kids that have personality and poise, and stage presence. Experience is not a factor,” said Alayna Sheron, director and owner of show organizer Northwest Fashion Institute.

The institute produces some 20 such fashion shows annually in the Northwest.

For Saturday’s show, 10 mall merchants have donated clothes for the young women to model.

Mazarine Ebengho, 17, is president of the Clover Park High School Fashion Club. Along with a handful of fellow students – also fellow immigrants from the Congo – Ebengho attended Wednesday’s auditions.

Where does she believe fashion will head come autumn?

Pencil dresses, lace shirts, boots.

And in the case of the Clover Park High School Fashion Club, the girls will be making statements of their own design.

“We raise funds and go the fabric store and buy fabrics. Then we have fashion shows with the clothes we have made,” she said.

“Second to the holidays, this is our most important shopping season,” said Gable Cramer, who dropped by the auditions as a representative of J.C. Penney.

He predicted that denim will again sell well this year, as will Converse shoes.

“August is the biggest month for footwear,” Cramer said.

The National Retail Federation predicts the average family will spend $670 this year on back-to-school clothes, supplies and electronics. That figure represents a 5 percent increase from 2013 spending.

Total average spending for each K-12 student will hit $669, while total combined spending for back-to-school and headed-to-college should reach $75 billion.

The average high-schooler will spend $232 this year, with an additional $124 going to footwear, the NRF reported. The average spent on clothing, accessories, shoes, supplies and electronics will reach $683 for high school students; $682 for junior high and middle school students; and $581 for elementary students.

Three fashion trends noted in a Tacoma Mall brochure include “Into the Woods,” which feature fleece coats, hats, flannel and plaid; “Field Trip,” which harkens to a’60s “schoolgirl” look, with pastels and miniskirts; and “Chelsea Girl,” a London-like mashup of ’60s and city, again with miniskirts and a mix of stripes and patterns.

And so the young women auditioned, walking down the runway, some confident, some tentative. Parents in the audience aimed smartphones.

DJ Craig Stevens played a selection of boom-beat hits from Dillon Francis, Iggy Azalea and Charli XCX.

In the end, 18 young women were chosen.

Meanwhile, Ed and Betty Larson from Lakewood watched. He’s a retired development director at Pacific Lutheran University.

“I came to the Apple Store to get my phone fixed,” he said.

Then they stayed for the show.

“It was fun,” Ed said.

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