Bayside teen’s atypical models to hit catwalk at charity event

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An 18−year−old senior from Bayside’s Benjamin N. Cardozo High School said she is currently overseeing 18 teenage girls who do not fit the typical description of a fashion model, but will walk the runway at a Manhattan charity event this summer.

Olivia Mignone, who lives in Bayside and attends Cardozo, founded Shortstack modeling agency in 2006 through the city−based Windows of Opportunity, a leadership development agency that empowers youth by allowing them to address issues with which they are struggling through the creation of community service projects and other events.

Shortstack uses high school girls who do not fit the typical fashion model mold. Mignone said most professional models are very thin and taller than 5−feet­8−inches, but her agency allows girls of varying shapes and sizes to strut down the runway.

On June 19, Shortstack will host its third annual charity show to raise money and awareness for HIV and eating disorders at Manhattan’s Midtown Loft & Terrace on Fifth Avenue.

“It’s a huge step up for us,” Mignone said. “The runway is 40−feet long. It’s exciting.”

The event, which will run from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. and cost $45 per ticket, will include 18 models from the five boroughs. The charity show has raised $10,000 each year, but Mignone said she hopes to raise more this year. This year’s sponsors and designers include Hot Topic, David’s Bridal and J’Tor Designs.

In previous years, the agency hosted the show at Flushing Town Hall and Long Island’s Adelphi University.

Mignone and her models currently rehearse for the show every Tuesday night at Forest Hills’ JHS 190.

Hal Eisenberg, executive director for Windows of Opportunity, said Mignone’s agency provides an opportunity for teenage girls who typically might not get a shot at modeling.

“She looks for girls who are interested in modeling, but never went after it because of the message that society sends,” he said.

Mignone, only 5−feet­1−inch, came up with the idea for the agency after she did some modeling. She now plans to open her own modeling agency, but first will attend the University of California at Berkeley in the fall.

Eisenberg said Shortstack has used models from Flushing, Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Astoria, Fresh Meadows, Long Island City and Forest Hills as well as the other four boroughs and Nassau County.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

Updated 6:32 pm, October 10, 2011
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