Capturing the attention of fashion fanatics across the globe, New York’s famed Fashion Week serves as a showcase for designers’ newest styles and trends. 

A little closer to home, a University of Virginia student organization is gearing up for a fashion show of its own. 

That student organization is CRAVE, an acronym for “creative, raw and very edgy.” Embracing the diverse talents and cultural backgrounds of its members, CRAVE produces an annual fashion show to raise funds for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Charlottesville. 

Before transferring to the University during her second year, Ryan Lynch attended Hampton University, a historically Black institution in the Chesapeake Bay area. Without any prior modeling experience, she participated in Hampton University’s freshman fashion show. 

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Professional learning, without pause. University of Virginia, Northern Virginia
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“I ended up having a really good time,” the Philadelphia native said. “It was something very different that I never stepped into. I’ve always been creative, but I’m not an artist or anything.

“So, when I came to UVA, I knew I wanted to be part of a similar community.” 

The transition from a historically Black college to UVA was challenging, Lynch said. After arriving on Grounds, she searched for a diverse student group that allowed her to freely express her creativity. 

As a transfer student from Hampton University, third-year student Ryan Lynch came to Grounds in hope of finding a creative outlet through fashion. (Photo by Emily Faith Morgan, University Communications)

She joined CRAVE during the spring of her second year and crossed paths with current second-year student Justin Gregory. A Dinwiddie native, Gregory has been a member of CRAVE since entering UVA. 

Lynch and Gregory serve as the co-presidents of CRAVE during its 11th year as a student organization. Together, they hope to uphold the organization’s legacy and reputation. 

“We think of CRAVE as very fragile and precious,” Lynch said. “We want to be able to foster the same environment CRAVE has had for the past 11 years.”

Philanthropy is at CRAVE’s core. Aside from raising money for Charlottesville’s Boys and Girls Clubs through ticket sales, the group mentors youths, sharing wisdom about anything from school to modeling and everything in between. 

“It’s even more rewarding because people understand that not only are we a fashion organization, but there’s a greater good that we’re fighting for, and something we’re giving back,” Gregory, a psychology major and data science minor said. 

“It’s a great balance to be able to have a creative outlet while also doing something good.” 

CRAVE members line up chairs in the Runk Green Room to create a makeshift catwalk. The organization’s model practices are high-energy, with plenty of time budgeted for Beyoncé dance breaks. (Photo by Emily Faith Morgan, University Communications)

For many CRAVE members, modeling is far from second nature; gaining comfort in front of a crowd takes tremendous practice. The group hosts two practices per week, offering models plenty of time to perfect their time on the catwalk. 

Last year, without any prior modeling experience, current fourth-year computer science major Jose Sanchez auditioned to become a CRAVE model. 

Before entering college, second-year student Justin Gregory had never walked a runway before. Today, as the co-president of CRAVE, he inspires other aspiring models to step outside of their comfort zones. (Photo by Emily Faith Morgan, University Communications)

“Modeling was something I never thought about before, but I wanted to get out of my comfort zone,” Sanchez said. During his audition, Sanchez nervously demonstrated his walk to the executive board, hoping he would make the cut.

Sanchez made the modeling team and CRAVE became an integral part of his personal growth. 

“Putting myself in the public eye, especially for my looks, and performing in front of people has definitely boosted my confidence,” Sanchez said. “The way I carry myself has changed. I’m more comfortable in front of people now, and people have definitely noticed.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

CRAVE 2023-2024 (@crave_uva) • Instagram photos and videos

 

Not all CRAVE members model in their fashion shows. In fact, models make up the smallest portion of the organization’s membership. Supporting CRAVE’s executive board are six committees that contribute to the annual fashion show. The committees include finance, hair and makeup, photography, social media, logistics, and clothing.

Models like second-year student Imahkus Manns are encouraged to bring a pair of high heels to best simulate a real runway show. (Photo by Emily Faith Morgan, University Communications)

As one of the artistic expression directors of CRAVE, third-year Latin American studies and sociology double major Saraí Villagomez oversees the theme and subthemes selection process for the annual fashion show. 

The clothing committee then relies on these themes to choose outfits and set the appropriate moods for the models. According to Villagomez, the artistic expression team has selected the 2024 theme and will reveal it to CRAVE’s general membership in a few weeks. 

Third-year student Saraí Villagomez is one of CRAVE’s artistic expression directors. She has the honor of selecting the theme of this year’s fashion show, a secret that will be kept from the public until April. (Photo by Emily Faith Morgan, University Communications)

“With the theme being so secretive, we have photoshoots that lead up to the show to hint at the theme,” Gregory said. “Every aspect of the theme is intricately represented in the clothing we choose, so we like to tease that along the way to build anticipation.”

Last year’s theme, “Evolution,” explored “all the aspects of where fashion has come from all the way to what it could be in the future,” Gregory said. 

While the 2024 CRAVE Fashion Show’s theme is under wraps from the public until the day of the event, one thing is confirmed: The show will take place in April at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Charlottesville. For information, check out CRAVE’s Instagram page.

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Mike Mather

Managing Editor University Communications