From hockey stars to style all-stars Hockey players get shot of glamour, score on TV makeover show

Monday, October 11, 2004

It’s not that SCSU women’s hockey stars Kobi Kawamoto and Leanne Perrin didn’t have style. Hockey stick curtain rods and Canadian sports posters made a bold statement in their living room. And their standard-issue jeans and t-shirts, well-scrubbed faces and long, stick-straight hair gave them a distinct “look.” It may not be Vogue, but it fit the lifestyle of these best pals from Vancouver, eh?

Kobi Kawamoto and Leanne Perrin a Style MakeoverNot anymore. Not since Kobi followed through on her impetuous decision to nominate herself and Leanne for stardom on the television show that college women across America tune in to each weekday morning: The Learning Channel’s “A Makeover Story.” And not since the show’s production crew swooped in from the East Coast with their dramatic style coach, Moses (“One name, like Cher,” he said), and led the two women on a whirlwind trip into girliedom. The results can be seen when the SCSU seniors are featured in the first segment of the network series to air in the fall.

With cameras capturing their every move, the women and their entourage launched their two-day makeover at the Mall of America, where they filmed the show’s signature “style challenges.” Kobi had her legs waxed for the first time, and Leanne was strapped into a black corset to give her body “more curves.”

While Kobi was pleased with her smooth legs, Leanne didn’t appreciate the corset. “You know beauty knows no pain, sweetie,” Moses reminded her. “Work with me.” But after a couple hours in the lung-constricting, laced-up garment, she decided Victoria could keep this particular secret.

The adventure in style continued at Josi Wert, a trendy boutique located next door to the Lagoon Theatre in downtown Minneapolis. Kobi and Leanne, anticipating graduation next year and their need to start building a career wardrobe, wanted to find a few items of clothing they could mix and match.

But after going through the racks of “flirty,” feminine clothing and repeating “I trust Moses completely,” Kobi ended up in a black, mid-calf cocktail dress and Leanne in a long off-white skirt and silk watercolor print blouse. Along the way they were given style tips (“It’s all about finding the proper fit,” “It’s about finding that niche for you,” and “Some things that look good on the hanger don’t look good on the body”) and reminders from the producer that the cameras were always rolling. This was television, and as stars they needed to remain animated and talk about what they were feeling.

Kobi Kawamoto and Leanne Perrin before and after their Style MakeoverDuring their time in the boutique, a succession of media stopped by to chronicle the students-athletes’ foray into high style. It’s not often a national network television show – shot by the production company that runs the red-hot series “Trading Spaces” – comes to Minnesota. C.J. of the Star Tribune made the story the headline item in her next column. And St. Cloud Times reporter Liz Kohman gave the makeover process special coverage three days in a row.

Besides the corset fiasco, there were other minor setbacks that added drama to their experience. The two young women who left British Columbia four years
ago to play on the university’s women’s hockey team, unaccustomed to wearing high heels, teetered in the stiletto shoes and boots the show provided. “I find it incredible that you can ice skate but you can’t walk on heels!” Moses said. “Isn’t it the same concept?”

But after some frustrating moments, Kobi and Leanne emerged happy with their fashionable new outfits. “You were already beautiful,” Moses assured them. “I’m just kicking it up a notch, giving it some sauce. I’ve totally taken you out of your comfort zone – that’s my job.”

The wrap-up for the makeover segment took the stars, style coach and crew to St. Joseph and the Michelle Kenric salon where their hair was snipped (nine inches off Kobi’s and six off Leanne’s), layered, banged and curved, and their once bare cheeks, eyes and lips were treated to coverage and color.

Then it was on to the SCSU National Hockey Center – familiar territory at last. When the well-coiffed hockey stars stepped tentatively onto the ice and into the spotlight, their teammates greeted them with squeals and cheers as cameras captured the “unveiling.”

After the production crew and style coach had gone, Leanne and Kobi went back to being casually dressed SCSU seniors. They had been excited to be tapped for a television show they “watch all the time.” They had wanted to have fun with it, to experiment with a more stylish look before Leanne goes on to graduate school for physical therapy training and Kobi pursues a career as a college coach.

Would they do it again? “Absolutely!” they said, despite the fact that the experience had a few surprises. They got to keep their new clothes and accessories, and they were left with dramatically new haircuts. “We would have never done this otherwise,” Kobi said of the change. “I’d probably still have long hair in 10 years if we hadn’t done this!”

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