From gowns and grotesques to the little black dress

87th annual Fashion Design Show at Missouri History Museum April 24

Design by Priyanka Reddy. Model Sheridan Young of Centro Models. (Photo: James Byard/Washington University)

Clothes always tell a story.

Sometimes it’s a story of craft. Priyanka Reddy combines clean minimalist shapes with the rich detailing of kalamkari, a traditional Indian fabric-dying technique.

Sometimes it’s a story of inspiration. Amanda Bass channels the sinuous lines and whimsically macabre spirit of Renaissance architectural grotesques.

Sometimes it’s a story of ambition. Haley Moore seeks to capture, in crisp cotton voile, an air of joyful confidence.

At 7 p.m. Sunday, April 24, these stories and many more will hit the runway as part of Washington University in St. Louis’ 87th Annual Fashion Design Show. The show, which takes place at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park, will feature dozens of models wearing scores of outfits by more than 20 sophomore, junior and senior fashion design students.

“I think the audience is going to see some great design,” said Jennifer Ingram, lecturer in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, who directs the show. “But as a program, we’re also very interested in research and interdisciplinary learning.  We have ready-to-wear, but we also have experimental, conceptual and sculptural pieces that really push the boundaries.”

For example, students in Laura Baker’s experimental fashion design class have explored connections between fashion and studio art. In Chandler Ahrens’ “Performance Enhancing” class, fashion and architectural students teamed up to investigate unusual materials — such as acrylic, silicon and even wood — as well as cutting-edge methods of digital fabrication.

Meanwhile, pattern-making students, in a nod to the show’s host, have created dresses inspired by the exhibition “Little Black Dress: From Mourning to Night,” which highlights the Missouri History Museum’s world-renowned textile collection.

“We really wanted to showcase the breadth of the fashion design program,” Ingram said. “It’s going to be great to see how everything translates on the runway.”

Organizers and co-sponsors

The 87th Annual Fashion Show is chaired by Susan Sanders Block of The Designing Block. Stylists are led by Dominic Bertani of the Dominic Michael Salon. Makeup is by Randi Nicole.

Outstanding student designers receive a variety of scholarships, cash prizes and awards. The Dominic Michael Silver Scissors Designer of the Year Award is presented to one outstanding senior at the end of the evening. Block, who has helped organize the show for 22 years, sponsors the Silver Ripper Award, presented to one outstanding junior. Also awarded will be the Saks Fifth Avenue Honorary Designer Award.

Tickets are $100 for front-row “designer reserved” seating, which includes admission to the pre-show reception at 6 p.m., or $50 for general admission (i.e. second- and third-row seating). Standing-room tickets are $25 (and free for the first 90 Washington University students). Tickets are available through the Edison Theatre Box Office at 314-935-6543 or online at

The Missouri History Museum is located at 5700 Lindell Blvd., near the intersection with DeBaliviere Place. For more information, email


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