The Natural State has a few hidden treasures scattered around the state that would surprise outsiders and many Arkansans. The Arkansas Fashion School (AFS), under the direction of teacher and fashion designer Jamileh Kamran, is one of these treasures. The only one of its kind, AFS is a school for aspiring fashion designers of all ages and experience looking to take the next step in their careers.
On Oct. 9, 2021, AFS hosted its first fashion show since the pandemic began for the community and friends and family of the students studying at the school. The year 2019 was the last time AFS was able to showcase the students’ progress and feature students graduating from the program with their fashion lines.
The 2021 fashion show featured graduating students Beth Hollar, Brennan Taylor, Charli Sotomora, Elise Gibson, Reymon Linares, Emma Ferren, and emerging designer currently in the program, Leila Richardson. A ceremony was held for the six students graduating and moving on with words from Kamran and keynote speaker Sen. Joyce Elliott.
“It used to be that if you wanted to be in fashion, you had no start in Arkansas. Now, because of this school, we have a start that has stayed with us over the years to lead us to where we are tonight,” Elliott said. Drawing on the words of Martin Luther King Jr. and Albert Einstein, Elliott explained the importance of what the AFS students have learned and their contribution to society. “Imagination is more important than knowledge. [The students] have done the work of the knowledge, but we can never do it without the work of imagination.”
Under the lights of the stage and the moon, the designers’ collections were modeled on the runway with a mix of formal wear, business casual, wedding dresses and show-stealing appearances by designer Emma Ferren’s little brother in a shark printed suit and designer Reymon Linares’ niece in a yellow ball gown.
The graduating designers will be moving on to new opportunities, and Arkansas Fashion School is always accepting applications to join the program. Learn more about the Arkansas Fashion School on their website, and read about teacher and designer Jamileh Kamran’s extensive career.