Most Viewed Stories
Former resident brings couture back to Yuba-Sutter
When fashion designer Brittany Preston Romero began planning her first photo shoot, she knew only one location would fit her needs and satisfy her heart.
The brick backdrops, historic Chinese architecture and graffiti-tarnished walls she had in mind would complement the classy and couture style of her designs, while allowing her closest friends and family members to be part of an event so critical to her career.
And so on Saturday, the streets of downtown Marysville were transformed into a fashion-show runway, with five models and eight outfits taking center stage under Romero's artistic eye. The Yuba City High School graduate admitted that after four months of planning, the actual photo shoot took her breath away.
"When they were doing hair and makeup, it was like, 'That's my vision,'" she said. "All the artists involved have made it come to life."
To serve as the models, hair and makeup artists and her design assistants, the 22-year-old Romero asked her longtime friends and family members. Most of the women were new to modeling and admitted it was nerve-racking at first.
"But after the first couple camera clicks, it was kind of cool. I'd do it again," said Yuba City resident Britny Barnhart, who has been friends with Romero for a decade.
The designs on Saturday included a pleated woven skirt, a cotton-spandex gown in shimmery gold, and the "cupcake dress," which had a flouncy gray bodice above a floor-length cream-and-gold skirt. Makeup was to the extreme, with lipstick in orange, blue and red glitter, long false eyelashes, and gold sequins applied to eyelids.
Before the photographer started snapping, Romero made slight adjustments, moving a bracelet, tightening a dress, tucking a strand of hair away. As her models took their stances, she'd ask them to turn their faces, elongate their necks or "smile with your eyes" — a trick she learned from "America's Next Top Model."
"It's amazing seeing her. I know this is something she's always dreamed of," said her cousin and design assistant Zumla Vazquez of Yuba City. "It's cool seeing her in action, and I've never seen her designs. ... They are so fun and fresh and kind of different."
After graduating from high school in 2007, Romero immersed herself immediately in the world of design. She left home at 17 to study for two years at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in San Diego, graduating in 2010.
Since then, she's been working as a technical illustrator for a design manufacturing company in Los Angeles. Romero spends her days rendering and sketching with designers and pattern makers, and her free time is dedicated to her own designs or volunteering at fashion shows.
"It's something I've known my whole life," she said. "From the first time my dad showed me a needle and thread to going to the neighbor's house across the street to make clothes and pillowcases, it's always been my life to surround myself with art and design."
She's adapted to the high-paced LA lifestyle, a stark contrast to life in Yuba-Sutter, she said, but she's the same person today who once shopped the sale racks with her friends.
"I can be the same person, just in a different background, a different scenery," she said. "I'm still the same designer at heart. That's why it's important to me to go back to my hometown."
With makeup and the stylish outfits, Romero's 14-year-old cousin, Maya Foreman of Yuba City, looked years beyond her age, something she admitted was kind of fun as she struck sassy poses and glammed for the camera.
"It's nice getting pampered and getting your hair and makeup done," she said.
A few passers-by stopped to watch, but mostly, the audience was Romero's family, who brought chairs to watch the show. Her aunt, Yuba City resident Vickie Balsavage, said she was proud to see how far her niece has come.
"She's very creative in every sense of the word," Balsavage said. "Her mind goes faster than she can sew."
She hopes Romero can be an inspiration to other young women and youths in the community.
"Brittany shows you can do whatever you want to do if it's your passion and you go for it," Balsavage said.
Romero recently auditioned for NBC's reality fashion-design series, "Fashion Star," and has her fingers crossed that she'll be selected as a contestant. If not, she'll try again next year and continue crafting designs.
With the photos from the weekend shoot, Romero will start to build an online portfolio with Model Mayhem, a website that creates industry connections, and add to it in the next few months with additional shoots in Los Angeles.
Her dream is to create her own fashion line, whether for the corner of a store or sold custom-made.
"My goal is to get a tag on a clothing line and see it walking down the runway," Romero said. "That would be the best feeling in the world."
CONTACT Ashley Gebb at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4783. Find her on Facebook at /ADagebb or on Twitter at @ADagebb.