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Franky the Fashionista

Franky the Fashionista
Posted on 05/10/2018

Wheat Ridge High School art teacher Franky Scaglione tidies up after a full day of work in his classroom.Franky Scaglione was straightening up after another hard, creative day in Classroom 23 at Wheat Ridge High School. This comfortable space is full of student artwork, as well as influences from Scaglione’s life and career. Classroom 23 goes by another name well known at Wheat Ridge: Studio 23. The students who come through these doors are considered Studio 23 artists.

My job is just to oversee this and try and encourage them to take it big and to go on some different ways than they ever shown their art before, and so I really felt fortunate for the opportunity to work with these students in this way,” explained Scaglione, Wheat Ridge’s drawing and painting teacher.
He pointed with pride to a wall of photographs of Studio 23 alums who’ve gone on to professional careers.

“People that I've taught are now living in New York City, going to different art schools, living in Hong Kong, working on things and students that are all over the country doing different projects and a lot of them I still connect with and communicate with,” he said.

Studio 23 is not only a learning space, but it's also a historic space. It was here, more than a decade ago, where this Jeffco drawing and painting teacher launched a partnership that transformed him into Franky the Fashionista. Scaglione, with the help of a friend, was able to convince retailer Vans, known for their shoes inspired by surfing and skateboarding, to sponsor a student-powered fashion event tied to the Studio 23 name.

“We actually had 23 students the first year doing the fashion show, so of course it had to be something to do with 23, and we just thought Fresh 23 is what we were going to call it,” explained Scaglione.
Students painted original designs on the shoes and then modeled them in shows that they organized from scratch. The fashion extravaganzas grew increasingly sophisticated by the year.

“This fashion show was something that was very organic and just came right from the students in terms of what they wanted to do with it, how we were going to make it grow,” he explained. “Kind of kept trying different things and different venues and different ways of showcasing the art. But it's always been about the students creating this project and kind of going new places with it and kind of developing it as it goes and it's been so much fun.”

The concept was such a hit, Vans took the idea to the next level, rebranding Fresh 23 as “Custom Culture” and introducing it to what has grown to thousands of schools including the US, Canada, China, Korea, and Brazil, all modeled on the Wheat Ridge High School original.

“It makes me feel proud, makes me really feel proud of my students, proud of the community here. It makes me feel really privileged and lucky that I get to be a part of this and that I get to be a mentor for these students, a coach,” said Scaglione. “Give them some kind of inspiration, some kind of motivation something to get excited about that's really the most, that's what I feel from it. I just feel really lucky to be a part of it."

See the JPS-TV version of this story here or below.

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