The 76th Annual Fashion Design Show

Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts to present annual extravaganza at Saint Louis Galleria May 1

The Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis will present The 76th Annual Fashion Design Show at Saint Louis Galleria Sunday, May 1.

Ballgown by Annie Eismeier
A ballgown by senior Annie Eismeier

The fully choreographed, Paris-style extravaganza will feature dozens of professional and volunteer models wearing more than 100 outfits created by 13 seniors and five juniors from the school’s fashion design program.

Festivities begin with a reception at 7:30 p.m. in the Galleria’s Garden Court, near the entrance to Lord & Taylor. The hour-long show starts at 8 p.m., followed by a dessert reception for the designers and audience, during which many of the featured couture creations will be available for purchase.

General admission is $50, $25 for students. Tickets are available through the Edison Theatre Box Office, (314) 935-6543, and at the Galleria Concierge Service Center. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door. For more information, call the 24-hour fashion show hotline at (314) 935-9090.

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Emphasis on design

Jeigh Singleton, head of the fashion design program, compared the show to a Broadway-style revue, filled with lights, music, drama and, of course, glamorous costumes.

Wedding gown by Barbara Moran
A wedding gown by senior Barbara Moran. The piece was inspired by Picasso’s cubist painting “Three Women” (1907-08). It features an unconventional seam scheme, with added fullness at strategic areas to enhance the three-dimensional/cubist aspect.

Clothing — selected by a jury of university faculty and professional designers — will range from suits and sportswear to dress groups inspired by fashionable cities and opera coats on the theme of “Blues in the Night.” The show also highlights the seniors’ signature collections, each a fully coordinated clothing line tailored to a specific audience and based on a specific theme.

“This is a fashion design show, emphasis on design,” Singleton pointed out. “There’s a definite learning experience associated with each project. What is a collar? What is a sleeve? How do you make a waistband or underline a garment? How do you create shapes and how do they affect a garment’s structure?”

For example, “the juniors did brown suits, but it wasn’t about the color brown and it wasn’t about suits. It was about learning to cut fabric, to make patterns, to structure silhouettes. The end result may look fabulous, but the point is to master a particular set of skills and a particular way of thinking.”

As in past years, the show will conclude with a single student-designed wedding dress, chosen by competition. This year’s juror was fashion alumnus Kristin McDonough, who has worked for Anne Taylor and Calvin Klein. The winning dress, by senior Barbara Moran, features an ambitious seam scheme inspired by Pablo Picasso’s cubist painting “Three Women” (1907-08).

Last year, approximately 500 people attended the event, raising about $50,000.

Organizers and Co-sponsors

The Fashion Design Show is chaired by alumna Susan Block (BFA’76).

Dress by Michael Faherty (pictured at left)
A full dress with skirt that doubles as a cape, designed by senior Michael Faherty (pictured at left).

“Susan is the real force behind the show,” Singleton noted. “She knows how to get things done. She took what had been a small, traditional event and transformed it into the big, glamorous production it is today.”

This year marks the show’s eleventh appearance at Saint Louis Galleria. For the 13th year, the models’ hair will by done by Dominic Bertani of the Dominic Michael Salon. Other organizers include Michael O’Keefe of Technical Productions and Gretchen Hafferkamp of Premiere Rentals. The models’ makeup will be done by MAC.

Outfits are modeled by professionals and — in a new twist this year — by an exclusive group of male fashion program supporters. Show coordinator Jane Kairuz explained that what began as kidding among colleagues became a unique way to raise funds.

“Over the years several of my doctor friends have asked why they’re not in the show,” she said. “So this year I invited them.” The volunteers, each of whom donated $1,000 to the fashion program, will wear their own tuxedos and accessories, and will receive a photograph and a video of their modeling debut to share with family and friends.

Outstanding student designers receive a variety of scholarships, cash prizes and awards, including the Dominic Michael Silver Scissors Designer of the Year Award, presented to one outstanding senior at the end of the evening, and the Silver Ripper Award, sponsored by Block. This year, Kairuz will present a new award: the Coordinator’s Choice for Most Inspiring Designer.

“Every year there is one designer who inspires me in producing the show,” Kairuz explained. “Sometimes its their attitude, sometimes it’s a particular outfit or collection, sometimes it’s just their skill at sewing or construction. I wanted to recognize that person.”

Fashion Design at Washington University

The Fashion Design Show dates back to 1929, when Irving L. Sorger — merchandise manager for Kline’s, a tony St. Louis department store — organized a show of student work for local garment manufacturers. Eight dresses were selected for production, sales surpassed all expectations, and juniors’ fashions became a staple of the city’s burgeoning garment industry.

In 1941, Washington University became home to what is believed to be the nation’s first four-year, degree-granting fashion program. Alumni over the years have included major designers such as Paula Varsalona and Carolyn Roehm. Recent graduates work for major fashion houses and clothing retailers, including Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Christian Dior, Nanette Lepore, Lilly Pulitzer, Nike, Lands’ End, Fitigues, Lane Bryant, The May Co. and Federated Department Stores.


WHO: Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis

WHAT: The 76th Annual Fashion Design Show

WHEN: 8 p.m. Sunday, May 1. Reception 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Saint Louis Galleria

TICKETS: $50 general seating, $25 students. Available through the Edison Theatre Box Office, (314) 935-6543; at the Galleria Concierge Service Center; and at the door.

SPONSORS:Sam Fox School and Saint Louis Galleria

INFORMATION: (314) 935-9090