Bigger than life (Photo:marieaustralia)

Surreal and unreal are words Madicyn Boudreaux, 16, and her mother Rachel Hebert used often to describe their recent experiences at the Atlanta Apparel Mart’s World of Prom Formal Fashion Week. It is the nation’s No. 1 prom and social fashion event of the year. It’s every girl’s dream, Boudreaux said.

The whirlwind events leading to photo shoots and a week of runway are things Boudreaux only dreamed of before July.

“It was incredible, a dream come true. One of the most amazing experiences I ever had,” Boudreaux said. “When I got there, it was surreal. It was really happening. It was the real deal.”

First on the journey was a trip to Costa Rica for the Miss Teen America national competition in early July. Boudreaux made the Top 15 in the pageant but the rocket launch was three days into the event. A “fan favorite” social media contest was underway but limited internet access kept Boudreaux from spreading the word to family and friends. Finally word got out to her home fan base and in just a few hours, Boudreaux passed the leader among the other models by doubling the number of votes received. She maintained the lead and received the award as America’s Favorite Teen for the online contest.

“It was very humbling. I have so much appreciation for everyone that took time out of their busy schedules to vote for me,” Boudreaux said. “During that time, a scout began observing me as well as all the contestants vying for the title of Miss Teen America. Later she told me that it was the way mom and I interacted with love and compassion towards each other that ultimately had her choose me for the next venture in my life.”

Captured in the moment

The next adventure was a three-day professional photo shoot in Texas for Ruby Vogue designs by Precious Formals. Precious Formals CEO and designer Ruby Ashraf was preparing layouts for Seventeen Magazine and unknown to Boudreaux, for larger-than-life size posters of prom dresses to be featured at the Atlanta Formal Fashion Week. As Boudreaux’s first photo session, she observed what the other models were doing and required very little instruction from the photographer, Ashraf’s husband Javed. It was during the sessions that the Ashrafs recognized a special talent in Boudreaux and asked her to model the gowns on the runway in two weeks later.

“When I first arrived at the venue in Atlanta, I saw a window poster of myself and it was like a dream,” Boudreaux said. “I began meeting all the top formal dress designers such as Sherri Hill, Jovani, Tarik Ediz, Tony Bowls and others.”

Boudreaux said she did five runway shows a day for four days and modeled more than 300 dresses during the week. Each designer was displaying the gowns merchants would select to feature for the 2017 prom season. She said it was a lot of fast-paced fun that resulted in swollen feet from wearing different pairs of 6-inch heels all day long. As quickly as the models exited the runway, they would change into the next gown. Boudreaux said it was a lot more work than she ever could have imagined, but she loved it.

“I always heard it was a lot of work, but I didn’t realize how much these girls do and have to go through each day, all day, every day, for five days in one room,” Boudreaux said. “It is fun. Definitely worth it.”

Rubbing Celebrity Shoulders

One of the hospitality events Boudreaux attended was the Retailers Choice Awards Gala where models and designers were able to mingle with one another. During the course of the week, Boudreaux was selected to model for the main event which was the World of Prom Runway Show. Not until after she was selected did Boudreaux come to understand the level of prestige the occasion brought.

“The models that were in that show had been auditioning for months,” Boudreaux said. “I didn’t even know that at the time. I didn’t find out until someone told my grandmother as she watched me walk down the runway. A lady said her daughter tried out for five years and finally made it this year. I was astounded. Knowing that made me realize what a big opportunity it was.”

One of the coordinators of the event saw Boudreaux’s picture a poster and talked to Ruby Ashraf, asked Hebert for a comp card and the next thing they knew she was in the show, Hebert said.

“It was crazy,” Hebert said. “Madicyn watches this stuff all the time. When she was getting into hair and makeup, she looked over and saw one of the girls from America’s Next Top Model getting ready right next to her. It was so surreal.”

Boudreaux was able to preview the new collection of one of her favorite fashion designers. Twice a year for three years she has worn Sherri Hill prom dresses. Mother and daughter were looking at potential dresses for the Miss Teen USA pageant to be held in October, when a woman carrying a needle and thread casually entered the dressing room.

Boudreaux and Hebert, holding her infant son, were having a friendly conversation when Hebert finally asked — the woman was indeed “the” Sherri Hill.

“She was someone I idolized. It was crazy. She runs this big fashion company and I just met her,” Boudreaux said. “I also met Mr. Abraham Maslavi, owner of Jovani. He was so sweet, so happy when I met him. He also owns a huge corporation with all these dresses.”

One of the benefits of the week is that Boudreaux will be able to wear the Ruby Vogue collection of Precious Formals for any occasion. The day of her newspaper interview, Ashraf contacted Hebert requesting Boudreaux for yet another photo shoot.

Humble Beginnings

Boudreaux, a senior at Catholic High School, was the baby of the runway week. At 16 she was the youngest model, walking among top models mostly around the age of 20. Her participation in beauty pageants since the age of 6, including being crowned Junior Miss Iberia in the 2014 Miss Iberia pageant, helped Boudreaux prepare for the unexpected circumstances that opened before her during the past month.

“I am always enthusiastic to see how a girl’s level of confidence grows as she progresses through her year as a Miss Iberia queen,” said Elizabeth Minvielle, director of the Miss Iberia pageant. “This confidence continues on with her into the future. Madicyn is an example of how a past queen has gone on to capture a future honor after reigning as a Miss Iberia queen. I am so very proud of these girls.”

Minvielle said she cannot wait to see what the future holds for the 2015 title holders, Brandy Milliman, Amber Lanclos and Dusti Bourque, who gave up their titles last weekend. Teche Area residents can follow all the queens on Facebook at Miss Iberia Junior and Teen Miss Iberia or on Instagram at Miss_iberia, Minvielle said.

Future Goals

Boudreaux has crossed over from the amateur modeling arena into the professional realm. Cheer leading and gymnastics since she was 4 years old, plus dancing for Catholic High’s Jazz team that went to nationals, have helped her to feel comfortable on the stage and it shows. The opportunities coming to Boudreaux, plus the school commitments for her senior year, have her thinking twice about what her next move will be.

Designer Faviana was interested in her modeling in Atlanta but the Precious Formals commitment took precedence. She is looking forward to the possibility of working with Faviana in other shows coming up in Chicago or Dallas.

“It’s like the real deal,” Boudreaux said. “I didn’t realize it.”

Helping Others

Boudreaux said God is in charge of her life. With her mother’s support, Boudreaux watches for the signs and confirmations that will help her make wise decisions in all areas of her life.

She enjoys working with the Cortland Fund for Kids, helping grieving children that have lost a parent. At an early age, Boudreaux understood the emotional pain of loosing her uncle Cortland Hebert in 2009 and father in 2015.

“I definitely want to go to college and we’ll tour more schools this year. I want to be a pediatrician, but for now — we’ll see,” Boudreaux said. “You never know. This whole Atlanta thing I didn’t expect. Whatever happens is meant to happen. I never knew I’d get this huge opportunity. (God’s) plan is so much bigger.”Read more at:long evening dresses