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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

UF psychology senior set to debut How Bazar’s first interactive runway

Noah Sams’ ‘Supernova Runway Extravaganza’ will occur at 60 SW 2nd St. April 27

Noah Sams has decided it's finally time to transform the Gainesville fashion scene. Since his freshman year at UF, he has slowly curated a collection that transcends anything he’s ever seen on the city’s catwalks. 

On April 27, a year-in-the-making vision will come to life in front of local fashionistas and art enthusiasts alike.

The “Noah Aaron Sams Supernova Runway Extravaganza” is an interactive runway event hosted by Sams, a 21-year-old UF psychology senior and aspiring clothing designer, at How Bazar. Inspired by his time in Gainesville, the event will feature a culmination of Sams’ fashion creations he made during his time studying at UF. 

Sams said he distinguished his “extravaganza” from typical fashion shows by incorporating an interactive element, which includes the event’s showcase of a DJ, two live bands and several Gainesville vendors. 

“With usual runways, it’s very quiet, very poised,” Sams said. “But with this, it’s a celebration.”

Sams said he’s also working to foster the interactive experience by encouraging the audience to engage with the models as they walk the runway. 

“The audience can be loud, the audience can dance, the audience can get up close,” he said. “This is the part that makes it, for me, an interactive runway experience: It's not just, ‘Come and observe.’ It’s ‘Come and be a part of this.’”

The supernova runway extravaganza has been a work in progress for quite some time, with Sams first getting the idea to execute the event last year.

After previously working at How Bazar as a model and, later, an independent designer for runway shows, Sams approached Laila Fakhoury — a co-owner at the downtown clothing business — with the idea for his unusual runway event. “Noah Aaron Sams Supernova Runway Extravaganza” will be the first immersive runway the venue will host. 

“This is gonna be the first time that happens in the shop, and I’ve been wanting it to happen,” Fakhoury said. “I’m really glad Noah’s the one that’s doing it, because there’s no other best person for that.”

Once the initial stages of the event were established, Sams posted a casting call for models on his Instagram story, which received more than 100 applicants. 

Jeff Carmichael, a 20-year-old UF economics and psychology junior, is set to be a model at the event. Carmichael said he began modeling last Fall, and it was Sams who inspired him to do so after meeting in a class the Spring prior.  

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“I just saw him, and I was like, ‘That dude looks cool as hell, let me go talk to him,’” Carmichael said. “We became friends and I learned he’d modeled, and I realized just how much I wanted to do that.” 

Carmichael will be wearing one of the pieces Sams created during his time in Gainesville, which total to more than 30 designs. 

After having been involved in the fashion scene since his senior year of high school, Sams started creating his own clothing after being inspired by a Polaroid dress he saw on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” 

“[The Polaroid outfit] helped me to open my scope of the realm of, ‘Anything is possible as long as you try,’” he said. “Who says Polaroids can’t be an outfit? Who says I can’t make stuffed animals into a big coat? Fashion is fun.” 

When creating these avant-garde-style pieces, Sams has one rule: there are no rules. 

“The worst that can happen is that it doesn’t go quite as planned,” he said. “But sometimes, the product of something that you don’t expect is even cooler than what you originally expected.”

Sams said one of the elements that makes fashion enjoyable for him is the ability to connect with his inner child, back before he understood the concept of judgment. One significant source of inspiration for him, he said, lies in early-2000s anime cartoons.

“It’s going back before I knew what self analysis was, and going back to those inner joys,” he said. “I love Pokemon, so I made a Pokemon outfit. It’s stuff like that.”

With his interactive runway, Sam said he sees it as a “final hurrah” of his time in Gainesville as he prepares to graduate next month. The Gainesville community, he said, is a community that has “poured so much into [him].”

“I’m really, really excited to bring aspects of my culture — whether that be through my Taiwanese culture, whether that be through my queer culture, or whether that be through the Gainesville local art scene culture,” he said. “I’m excited to bring those designs to the runway. It’s a reflection of me and my excitement and my passions and who I am.”

The event will start at 6:30 p.m. at 60 SW 2nd St. with free admission. 

Contact Tanya Fedak at tfedak@alligator.org. Follow her on X @ttanyafedak.

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