Howard University is arguably the most stylish college campus in the Washington, D.C., area (perhaps, even, the country). On any given day of the week, you can take a stroll on H.U.'s main yard and see girls and guys rocking the freshest of outfits just to go to class or eat lunch at the Punchout. In addition to fashion, Howard’s annual homecoming celebration, which officially kicks off Oct. 17, is equally legendary. So, when you combine the two, you get one of the school year’s most anticipated events: the homecoming fashion show.

Male models get wait for their runway walk during the 2011 Howard Homecoming fashion show. (Astrid Riecken/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

This year’s show takes place Thursday, Oct. 18, at 8 p.m. at Cramton Auditorium. The theme is “Nouveau Riche: Renewing the Standard of Class.” That name alone is a reminder of a much more sophisticated time in the school’s unofficial dress code in which students attended football games at the old Griffith Stadium dressed in flapper hats, fur stoles and wool suits.

The annual fashion show is one of the most popular events during homecoming and is known for its dramatics and celebrity spottings. In 2002, the theme was “Pimp Harder.” Large plasma screens were strategically placed along the stage and played scenes from movies such as “Dolomite” and “Pimps Up, Hoes Down,” and then-student actor Lance Gross even walked the runway. The next year, sports icons Venus and Serena Williams modeled. A few years later, in 2009, the front rows of Cramton Auditorium were filled with celebrities such as Keith Robinson, Melissa Ford and Essence Atkins. In 2010, aerial silk artists dangled from the ceiling while models worked the catwalk. Jones is keeping quiet about the stars slated to make appearances this go-round, but if previous years are any indication, they’ll be big.

 A major difference that attendees will notice with this year’s production is that instead of two back-to-back shows, which always allowed for more students and the local fashion community to attend, there will be a single, extended show.

“This has caused a bit of raucous,” Jones says, “but it’s about quality over quantity.” Despite nixing the second act, she promises that the 2012 version will be bigger and better. Some of the designs that’ll be showcased include those from Andrew Nowell Menswear, Trisha Will, Kreemo and Corjor International. The musical performers set to hit the stage are R&B singer Elle Varner and hip-hop duo The Cool Kids. There are a few other surprises up Jones’s sleeve, but mum is the word. She wants to maintain an element of suspense right up until showtime.

Budget cuts forced this year’s production team to work twice as hard to help secure donations and show sponsors, which include Pastry Shoes by Vanessa and Angela Simmons, Indique Hair and Allstate. On Thursday night, Jones anticipates that it’ll be hectic, but welcomes the challenge. She, along with nearly 20 other event staffers, will be working diligently behind the scenes to ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible. “I want to bring Howard’s homecoming fashion show back to what it used to be,” Jones says. And with all of the hype surrounding this year’s event, the expectations are indeed very high — it is the Mecca, after all.

Check out the Howard University 2012 fashion show promo video below:

Visit to get more information and to purchase tickets ($30 for students, $40 for nonstudents).

Andrea N. Browne is a journalist based in the Washington, D.C., area with a penchant for great style .

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