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The Runway Rundown: FACES on campus

From the classroom to the runway, the Tampa chapter of FACES Modeling Troupe Inc. is living by its motto: “Every day is a runway.”

FACES is one of seven chapters in Florida and the largest modeling troupe on the east coast. It was founded at Florida A&M in 1997 and was brought to Tampa by Sophia Isoff and Assu Etsubneh, said Daton Haywood, the Tampa chapter director of shows.

“When our founders in 1997 started the organization, they thought, ‘Let’s bring this different look,'” Haywood said.

Each semester, FACES holds a fashion show featuring talent, confidence and innovative style, with a majority of the clothing created by FACES student designers.

This semester, the group showcased “Primal Instincts,” and all proceeds were donated to the Anytown Foundation.

“This is the first semester we decided to choose a foundation,” said FACES President Alfonso Ferguson.

The president is responsible for recruiting sponsors who are able to contribute clothing to the shows.

“What (sponsors) can’t provide, we make,” said Ferguson.

Throughout the semester, the troupe also holds smaller shows, hosts fundraisers and participates in charitable events. As one of the USF organizations not funded by student-paid Activity and Service fees, FACES raises all of its funds independently.

“It makes you appreciate it that much more when it’s not handed to you. You have to work for it,” Haywood said.

Ferguson said two things a model has to be are determined and dedicated.

“It tends to get hard as the semester goes along – school gets hard and people tend to crack,” he said.

Haywood said a potential model should also be fashion-forward and confident.

“No matter who you are, you should always be unique and on your fashion sense,”

he said.

While FACES is foremost a modeling troupe giving students the opportunity to express themselves through personal style, it focus on other aspects, including breaking the mold of the typical American model.

“In society, they feel 5-foot-9, 110 pounds is the ideal model … Society is shallow when it comes to fashion,” Haywood said.

Haywood said anyone can be a model.

“You may not be high fashion, but you can model. We bring diversity into modeling that we pull from the University to bring to the community,” he said. “At the end of the day, we are performers.”

But there are also opportunities for those who want to work behind the runway rather than on it. FACES auditions designers, hairstylists and makeup artists, and students are encouraged to try out.

The next interest meeting is Jan. 11. While confidence and creativity are key factors to any model walking on the runway, being fashionably fabulous or bringing that trendsetting swag is a must.

Information about the troupe can be found on or at the Facebook page for the Tampa chapter.