Sam Fox School to present 80th Annual Fashion Design Show March 29

Runway show at Lumiére Place Casino & Hotels to conclude Saint Louis Fashion Week

Fashion is fun, challenging, inspiring and everywhere. It is also hard work. Next week 11 seniors and seven juniors from the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts — home to the nation’s oldest four-year fashion design program — will present the fruit of their labors in the school’s 80th Annual Fashion Design Show.

The Sam Fox School’s annual Fashion Design Show returns to Lumière Place Casino & Hotels March 30.

The hour-long, fully choreographed, Paris-style extravaganza — which serves as the concluding event for Saint Louis Fashion Week — begins at 8 p.m. Sunday, March 29, at the Lumière Place Casino & Hotels, 999 2nd Ave. Tickets are $65 for general seating and $35 for standing-room-only. Tickets are available through the Edison Theatre Box Office, (314) 935-6543, and all MetroTix outlets, (800) 534-1111. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door.

In addition, front row VIP seating is available for $100, which also includes a special reception immediately preceding the show, at 6 p.m. Proceeds will support scholarships in the fashion program.

“This is the second year that the university has been part of Saint Louis Fashion Week,” says associate professor Jeigh Singleton, who has directed the fashion show since 1987. “This collaboration has proved advantageous educationally, as well as socially.

“The opportunity to act locally in harmony with this burgeoning fashion renaissance is unique among schools with fashion design programs,” Singleton adds. “Our students learn a particular skill set in academia, but the skill set necessary for promotion, production, exhibition with real deadlines, real bottom lines, and real professionals is more real than any classroom, studio or ‘reality television’ can supply. This collaboration serves us well in providing more preparation for the next step.”

In addition to designing and sewing garments, students take responsibility for staging a model call and selecting models; arranging fittings; choreographing for the runway; and working with technical crew and stylists such as Dominic Bertani of the Dominic-Michael Salon. “Seniors are so busy backstage they don’t even see the show,” Singleton quips.

Chaired by alumna Susan Block (BFA’76), the show will begin, in a twist on tradition, with a contemporary wedding dress created by senior Michelleanne Deutsch. Selected by competition, this sleek halter-style gown is designed to reflect modern values of equality and opportunity. Alumna Sarah Hughes served as juror.

The show will continue with fall dress groups by senior students. Inspirations range from Mayan culture to cutting-edge technology to the architecture of Le Corbusier, Rem Koolhaas and William Pereira. Next up will be junior skirts and blouses based on the concept of patterns, followed by senior coats — running the gamut from boldly modern to 80s retro to 19th-century vintage — and juniors’ crepe suit-sets.

Concluding the show will be senior ball gowns. Xavier Avila offers a razor-sharp gown in burgundy crêpe defined by seductive cutouts, while Margaret Hemkins was inspired by 50s pinup Bettie Page and Eula Hinds created a spiraling confection of chocolate and caramel satin. Catherine Hite drew inspiration from architect Antoni Gaudí. Audra Janak updates the traditional Indian sari while Windnie Pan channels modern strength and confidence and Amanda Pargh recreates the vampy screen goddesses of classic cinema.

Tara Phelan offers a romantic, three-tiered gown of pink satin and black tulle. Elizabeth Romaner combines African beats with the fierce glamour of Roberto Cavalli. Melissa Wong recalls the magic and innocence of classic Disney princesses.

“Often the glamorous spectacle of a fashion show eclipses the rigor of a fashion design program,” Singleton concludes. “Our mantra is simply this: We are in the ‘know business,’ not ‘show business.’ The results of this baccalaureate experience show up in our most important product: our most recent graduates.”


The Fashion Design Show dates back to 1929, when Irving L. Sorger — the merchandise manager for Kline’s, a tony St. Louis department store — visited the university’s recently established a Dress Design Program, as it was then known.

Sorger was hoping to get a better sense of what young women wanted to wear and, impressed by the students’ work, organized a showing for local garment manufacturers. Ultimately eight dresses were selected for production and, with sales surpassing all expectations, juniors’ fashions soon became a staple of the city’s garment industry.

Though St. Louis is no longer a manufacturing center, alumni of the fashion program include celebrated designers such as Paula Varsalona, Carolyn Roehm, Vicki Van Osdol, Kristin Twenhafel Morse and Ellie Broady. Recent graduates work for many of the industry’s major fashion houses and clothing retailers, including Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Christian Dior, Nanette Lepore, Lane Bryant, J. Crew, Target and Kohl’s.


Saint Louis Fashion Week, which takes place March 24-30, was launched in fall 2007 by Alive magazine, which continues to coordinate events. It joins a series of recently established fashion weeks — including one San Francisco, begun in 2004, and in Phoenix, begun in 2005 — intended to showcase both national and local designers while also benefiting local businesses. In all, the week will include more than a dozen events, ranging from parties and runway shows to a citywide shopping event featuring special discounts for fashion enthusiasts.

For more information about Saint Louis Fashion Week, visit


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

WHAT: The 80th Annual Fashion Design Show

WHEN: 8 p.m. Sunday, March 29.

WHERE: Lumiére Place Casino & Hotels, 999 2nd Ave.

TICKETS: $65 general seating, $35 standing-room-only. Available through the Edison Theatre Box Office, (314) 935-6543, and through all MetroTix outlets, (800) 534-1111.

INFORMATION: (314) 935-6543