Fabricating fashion

88th Annual Fashion Design Show at Third Degree Glass Factory April 23

Sienna Feher of CENTRO Models wears slacks and a cropped top by Helen Kwon. Inspired by light spilling through an airplane window shade, her collection features iridescent fabrics crafted from confetti. (Photo: Jennifer Silverberg/Washington University)

Laser-cut skirts. 3-D-printed shoes. A glittering top of sewn confetti.

A garment is an aesthetic statement, but it is also a design challenge. How does a fabric behave? What are its structural properties? How does it respond to a pleat, a stitch, a cut?

“There’s a lot of engineering involved,” said Claire Thomas-Morgan, fashion design lecturer in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. “You have to figure out how to get the material to do what you want it to do.”

At 3 p.m. Sunday, April 23, the Sam Fox School will present its 88th Annual Fashion Design Show. The event, which takes place at Third Degree Glass Factory, will feature dozens of models wearing scores of outfits by six junior and eight senior fashion design students.

“Seeing your work brought to life is just amazing,” said Thomas-Morgan, BFA ’08, who is coordinating this year’s show. It is also instructive.  “A garment on a dress form doesn’t move.”

Sienna Feher of CENTRO Models wears a cropped top, slacks and hooded mesh robe by Geige Silver. Her collection, “Modern Heroine,” features pleats, layering and overlapping elements that suggest armored panels. (Photo: Jennifer Silverberg/Washington University)

Small perfect moments

The show will highlight the seniors’ thesis collections. Helen Kwon, for example, offers a contemporary take on the Hanbok, a traditional Korean dress. Inspired by light spilling through an airplane window shade, Kwon’s sleekly shimmering collection features a unique iridescent fabric she crafted from commercial confetti.

“I’ve lived half my life in Korea and half in the United States, and the past eight years have been filled with long flights back and forth with family,” Kwon explained. “This collection aims to capture that break from the everyday.”

Geige Silver’s collection, titled “Modern Heroine,” features pleats, layering and overlapping elements that subtly suggest armored panels. Maximillian Suiter’s “Palimpsest” invokes assemblage artists like Joseph Cornell and Kurt Schwitters. Ella Young’s “Beetle Queen” pays homage to her father, an amateur entomologist. Emily Lunt’s “Reverie” aims to capture “those small, perfect moments” in which “fantasy touches reality.”

Alexis Giger’s sophisticated denim takes inspiration from Georgia O’Keeffe and “the windswept textures of the American Southwest.” Emily Rubin, inspired by experimental photography, layers sheer fabrics to create levels of transparency and opacity. Abbey Maxbauer’s “Queen of the Dog Park” coordinates cold-weather coats for humans and dogs.

Also on the runway will be: formalwear collections; experimental shoes designed and 3-D-printed in the Sam Fox School’s Digital Fabrication Lab; and intricate skirts inspired by the Kemper Art Museum exhibition “Spectacle and Leisure in Paris: Degas to Mucha,” which were crafted with the aid of high-tech laser-cutters.

Emily Helling of CENTRO Models wears a coat and embroidered dress by designer Emily Rubin. Her collection, inspired by experimental photography, layers sheer fabrics to create levels of transparency and opacity. (Photo: Jennifer Silverberg/Washington University)

Organizers and Co-sponsors

The 88th Annual Fashion Design Show is chaired by alumna Susan Sanders Block of The Designing Block. Stylists are led by Dominic Bertani of the Dominic Michael Salon. Makeup is by Randi Nicole. Shoes are courtesy of Sam Edelman.

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 23 years, sponsors the Silver Ripper Award, presented to one outstanding junior. Also presented will be the Saks Fifth Avenue Honorary Designer Award.

Advance tickets are $75 for front-row seating and $45 for general admission (i.e. second- and third-row seating); ticket prices go up $10 at the door. Tickets are available through the Edison Theatre Box Office, (314) 935-6543 or online at edison.wustl.edu.

Third Degree Glass Factory is located at 5200 Delmar Blvd. For more information, email samfoxschool@wustl.edu.

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