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Model Karlie Kloss taps local women to walk the runway in emotional show at Pageant

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It was an emotional homecoming for model Karlie Kloss who debuted a limited retail collection Thursday night in a show at the Pageant.

In front of hundreds of friends and fans, Kloss launched her first co-designed collection in the same place she walked her first runway 13 years ago.

"This is really a full circle moment for me," Kloss said, when she walked out to close the show — not as a model but a designer. The hometown girl from Webster Groves got choked up while thanking her family and friends for coming out to support her. She said she spent more than a year working with the design team at Express to create the collection. 

"I think I'm going to stick to the other side of the runway," she said, laughing. 

Kloss and Express selected a group of young women to walk the runway in the collection through an Instagram contest. Applicants uploaded videos and said how they live their best life and empower others to do the same.

Six of the young women chosen are from the St. Louis area:

Emily Watson, a student and hospital volunteer from Edwardsville; Julia Cain, a St. Louis fashion blogger and cancer survivor; Octaviah Johnson, a model from Florissant; Mattea Linae, a St. Louis photographer; Elena Marroquin, a St. Louis lifestyle blogger; and Summer Albarcha, a hijab-wearing modest fashion blogger.

Kloss' sister Kimberly was also among the models who walked in the show. 

"You all rocked the runway," Kloss said to the women at the conclusion of the show. The press was not allowed to speak the women chosen to walk the runway. The diverse group included women of various body types among the 20-something demographic. 

The collection is comprised of 17 pieces including tees, blazers, maxi dresses and embellished bombers. Kloss described the items as her essential wardrobe pieces. The show features many pieces in solid black or white. The clothes will range from $24.90 to $168. Express is an apparel and accessories retailer of women's and men's merchandise, targeting the 20- to 30-year-old customer. 

The event also featured live DJ sets by Hannah Bronfman and a musical performance by Charli XCX. It was an invite-only event filled with Kloss' friends, family and supporters of the women featured in the show. There were also several girls who have participated in a coding camp started by Kloss. 

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