My experience at the Karlie4Express Runway Show
Anyone who knows me is aware of how much I adore Karlie Kloss, I first found out about her long before she was one of the world's greatest supermodels. Way back in my ballerina slash child model days I read an article on Teen Vogue about a young model from Missouri who was taking the fashion world by storm. My 13 year old self was simply amazed by how she managed to live a normal life, go to school and do ballet while being a high fashion model traveling all over the world. From that moment on I couldn't help but follow her journey and she's been my inspiration ever since. So when Express invited me to attend the Karlie4Express Runway Show in St. Louis I jumped at the opportunity, but let me tell you, I had no idea nor was I prepared for what was about to happen.
My adventure began on the morning of March 29th at LaGuardia Airport in NYC. I have to admit I was actually very nervous about the whole thing, I had never photographed a runway show before let alone an event of that magnitude. Being a shy person by nature, not knowing anybody there made me even more nervous but in the end I just had to shake it off the and go for it.
Arriving in St. Louis around 4:30pm I met the driver arranged by Express to pick me up at the airport and that was the first of my many "supermodel" moments as I like to call them. He had a sign that said Express followed by my name (that I may or may not have kept) and it felt pretty cool. He was really sweet and even asked me if I was I supermodel too. During the ride to the hotel he showed me some important sites around the city like the Arch, the Basilica, the city Museum and some of St. Louis best barbecue places, which I later tried for dinner and absolutely loved it!!!
I was staying at the beautiful Magnolia Hotel in downtown St. Louis, which was also provided by Express. As soon as I settled in I headed over to the nearest Express store to find something to wear for the big day and made use of my $500 gift card.
Back at the hotel I happened to ran into Sarah from the Express team who was super nice and wanted to make sure everything was alright. Till that point all I knew was I was going to attend the event the following day and that was it. I was really excited to do so and I didn't expect anything else, but boy I did have a nice surprise.
For some reason I woke up pretty early in the morning, I guess the nerves were starting to kick in, but thank god I did because while checking my phone I found a message from Sarah telling me to meet them for breakfast at 8am, we were going on a tour around St. Louis and then do what they called pre-show activities. I still had no idea what was to come.
At breakfast I got to met the winners of the #karliecontest who were walking on the show, they were the nicest girls, we all got along pretty quickly and my nerves started to easy down a bit. For the tour we were split in 3 groups each going to a different part of the city, and my group got to go to the Arch. I learned that we were actually going to shoot for Express and I honestly felt pretty much like Karlie herself. I had so much fun with the girls, it felt very special to be a part of it. It was already the best day ever!
After that super fun morning we went back to the hotel to get ready for lunch and then head over to The Pageant which was the venue where the event was taking place. Again Sarah from the Express team was great, she called me multiple times to make sure I knew the schedule and where to meet everyone, and also gave me a Like A Kloss shirt that I loved (you can never have too many of those right?!).
We went to a restaurant right across the street from the Pageant, the menu was very Karlie-like with lots of delicious healthy options.
I obviously had to stop for pictures before going inside, I mean just look at these. How could I not?
Inside the venue everything started to feel even more surreal, I still couldn't believe that in just a few hours I'd get to see the woman who have inspired me for so long. I was given backstage passes and later on VIP as well, I got to hang out backstage where the girls were getting their hair & make-up done for the show, I got to watch Karlie and the girls in rehearsal and see everything coming to life. Karlie was just the nicest girl, she greeted me with a hug and thanked me for coming. She took the time to talk with us for a bit and she really knows how to make you feel special, she's truly a sweetheart!
Afterwards I took my place at the VIP area and waited for the show to start. They had the most amazing snacks being served, pizza, burgers, Karlie's Kookies and Ted Drewes amazing frozen custard were some of them. I got to met Karlie's older sister, Kristine. She was really nice, we talked for a while and even took pictures together, you could just tell how proud she was. Derek Blasberg who is one of Karlie's long time friends happened to be sitting right next to me and I couldn't help but ask him for a picture too.
The show was absolutely amazing! The collection was beautiful and there were so many pieces that I'd actually wear. The fact that Karlie chose real girls from different sizes, shapes and ethnicities to walk the runway was really inspiring and something that you don't normally see in fashion. At the end of the show Karlie appeared dancing on the runway, she was all smiles and gave an emotional speech about the inspiration behind her collection. I was teary eyed when she said she specifically chose the Pageant as the venue because that was where she was discovered almost 12 years ago at a charity runway show in her hometown St. Louis. That was where it all started for her, on that same stage. It was beautiful to see she hasn't forgotten her roots.
After the show there was only one thing left to do: dance and enjoy Charlie XCX's set!
Karlie's little sister, Kimby, was indeed the life of the party. She was so much fun to be around, she danced and took pictures with us, and even introduced us to her friends and her grandma. I'm sure being nice is a Kloss thing because they were all the nicest people.
In between dancing and greeting her friends and family, Karlie still found time to take pictures with everyone who asked with a smile on her face. That girl is truly an angel! I'm so happy to have someone like her as my role model, she's beautiful inside and out and anyone who's lucky enough to have met her will tell you that. She's just a great girl!
I want to thank Karlie and everyone at Express for allowing me to be part of such an amazing experience. All the girls from the Express team were truly wonderful, they kept coming up to me the entire day to make sure I was having a good time, they honestly made me feel so important. It was the most magical day ever and will never forget!!
Here are some more images from that crazy wonderful day: