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Fashion show will benefit Wechsler renovation project

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
Nov. 1, 2002
A blend of fashion, culture and entertainment will be celebrated Saturday at Wechsler School.
Several local clothing designers will compete in Fashion Theater 2002' with the theme, "United We Stand."
William Edwards, founder of Black Thread Productions in Meridian, organized the event to showcase local talent and benefit efforts to renovate Wechsler School into a community arts center.
Edwards said he developed the idea for the competition after attending a community-wide meeting last month to discuss renovation of the former school.
Wechsler was the first brick school built for blacks in the state. The school was completed in 1894, a wing was added in 1914 and an auditorium and cafeteria were added in 1951.
Willie Mae Brown, 69, a local seamstress and designer, will be one of the contestants Saturday. She is also a member of the Wechsler Community Arts Center Association.
Edwards said the fashion show also will include skits on the subject of fashion.
The designing contest will be decided by judges with backgrounds in fashion. The top three contestants will receive trophies and the overall winner will receive $200.
Many local clothing stores including The Buckle, Gadzooks, 579, Cato, Suna Dee Inc., Alterations Plus and Pretty Precious Children's Clothing Store also will participate in the program using models to show their clothes.
The Wechsler Community Arts Center Association has been approved for a $385,000 grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to be matched with a $53,000 grant from The Riley Foundation. The money will be used to stabilize the building.
The association also was approved for a $37,000 matching grant from the Mississippi Arts Council to be matched with $24,600 raised locally through individual and corporate donations. The money will be used to install heating and cooling systems.