Small town, high fashion

Josie Perdue and desginer Marc Defang following his HiTechMODA show on September 12, 2021 (Contributed Photo)

Randolph County native walks the runway during New York Fashion Week

ASHEBORO — New York Fashion Week’s first big pandemic round of in-person shows kicked off with limited crowds and celebrity displays. The annual display of high fashion also included a Randolph County native making her fashion week runway debut. Southwestern Randolph High School junior Josie Perdue, 16, stepped onto the catwalk for designer Marc Defang in the Edison Ballroom on September 12.

Defang produced nine shows during the 2021 fashion week. Perdue modeled in Defang’s final show — HiTechMODA. “Each one of my models did fantastic job,” said Defang in a Facebook post. “They exceeded my expectations, I am so proud of them!”

Josie Perdue talks on a phone backstage before the Marc Defang HiTechMODA show at the Edison Ballroom on September 12, 2021 (Contributed Photo)

Perdue modeled a pink gown from Defang’s collection, along with platform shoes and a beaded clutch. The reigning Miss Randolph County’s Outstanding Teen stood out with her blonde curls.

Perdue said she connected with Defang through her pageant experience. “He is known by pageant girls for his fabulous platform shoes and bling,” said Perdue in an interview with North State Journal.

Preparing for the unique experience went beyond just the catwalk. Perdue traveled to New York with her father Andy who is in the automobile business at Strider GMC Buick Subarau and mother Julie who is a teacher. “Josie has had years of training with competition dance and most recently pageantry so there was little I had to help her with,” said Julie. “I wanted our trip to New York to be really special for her so we explored the city. My goal was to help build her confidence so she would feel comfortable on the runway.”

Perdue got two trips down the runway and said she enjoyed the experience. “I never thought I would be able to go to a show let alone be in one,” said Perdue. It was a proud moment for her father, Andy. “Seeing how excited she was about the whole experience and the confidence she had on the runway was an awesome feeling as a parent,” said Andy. “Knowing I helped make my little girl’s dream come true was a proud moment as a father.”

Drawing on her significant dance experience — she dances at Pointe South Dance & Tumble in Asheboro — and prior modeling experiences in North Carolina, Perdue said the preparation, fittings, wardrobe changes and walking came easy. “I have been dancing since I was three years old so I am used to being on the stage,” said Perdue. “Ballet training and being releve’ helped prepare me for walking in platform shoes.  Also, being in pageants helped me with my walk as well.”

Josie Perdue backstage before the Marc Defang HiTechMODA show on September 12, 2021 (Contributed Photo)

The varsity cheerleader says her career goals include becoming a nurse and continuing to participate in performing arts. Perdue said she enjoyed experiencing New York City when she wasn’t on the stage. Her family toured Central Park and Times Square. Her mother admitted to “taking way too many pictures of her modeling in different locations.” Perdue said she laughed when “people were trying to figure out if I was someone famous.”

Defang has provided Perdue with a level of stardom by naming a shoe in one of his prior collections “Josie.”

The six days of fashion shows ended in New York City the night before the rescheduled Met Gala and just as the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards were underway in Brooklyn.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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