‘It has got to be finished’

89th Annual Fashion Design Show at Third Degree Glass Factory April 15

Soleil Richardson of Mother Model Management wears a shirt and slacks by senior Amanda Fosnight at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. (Photo: Jennifer Silverberg/Washington University)

Designing for the studio is one thing. But designing for the runway?

“It has got to be finished,” said Claire Thomas-Morgan, senior lecturer in fashion design in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis, with a sly smile.

Michaela Bartley of West Model Management wears a design by senior Adria Duncan. (Photo: Jennifer Silverberg/Washington University)

“Students put in so much work that it can be hard to know when something is done,” Thomas-Morgan added. “It’s good to have a definitive end point.”

At 5 p.m. Sunday, April 15, Thomas-Morgan will direct the Sam Fox School’s 89th Annual Fashion Design Show. The event, which takes place at Third Degree Glass Factory, will feature dozens of models wearing scores of outfits created by fashion design majors.

“Students spend all year on this show,” Thomas-Morgan said. The process begins each summer, when seniors start planning capstone collections. In the fall, they research customer demographics and potential target markets, condensing their ideas into 12 distinct looks. In the spring, six of those looks are finished for the Fashion Design Show.

But the greatest challenge?

“Editing,” said Thomas-Morgan, a 2008 alumna. “It’s hard to edit all of your ideas down to just 12 outfits. And hard to commit to the six you’ll actually construct.

“Students want to do it all.”

The light and the dark

This year’s capstone collections include “Uncrossed” by Mandy Abend. Inspired by her grandmother’s love of crossword puzzles, Abend created an intricate, laser-cut pattern in which random squares are filled with colored resin.

“My grandma suffered from multiple sclerosis,” Abend explained. But she also had “the most incredible sense of confidence. Writing with her only functioning limb, she would zip through crosswords without looking up.” To Abend’s family, those crosswords became “a powerful symbol for my grandma’s ability to overcome adversity.”

Soleil Richardson wears a gown by Mandy Abend. (Photo: Jennifer Silverberg/Washington University)

Health issues also inform the work of Adria Duncan.

“The human heart is the most powerful organ in the human body,” Duncan said. “Throughout history and in every major religion, the heart has been viewed as the center of all spiritual and emotional well-being as well as the source of all evil, such as fear and hatred.”

But two years ago, “my father was diagnosed with cardiac sarcoidosis, a rare and serious heart condition. I witness him transform every day and choose between the two chambers of his heart: love or fear.” Through her work, Duncan hopes “to help myself and others better understand the light and dark that resides within all of us.”

Other capstone collections include  Sherry Yunhui Xu’s “Oriental Rhapsody,” which examines the collision between Eastern and Western cultures, and Haley Lundberg’s “LOST+Found,” which explores the emotion, sentiment and memory we invest in certain objects. Karalena Davis, a double major in fashion design and photography, explores unusual texture combinations. Amanda Fosnight juxtaposes “synthetic creation against the beauty of nature.”

“We are proud that each student will graduate with a portfolio of work that shows a specific visual vocabulary and design aesthetic,” said Mary Ruppert-Stroescu, associate professor and area coordinator for Fashion Design, “thereby setting the stage for a career as a fashion designer.

Also on the runway will be fashion kimonos, laser-cut cocktail dresses and formal wear, and prototype athletic wear designed for, and modeled by, a member of the St. Louis Spartans Paralympic rugby team.

Organizers and co-sponsors

Fashion show 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. Saks Fifth Avenue sponsors the Emerging Designer Award,  the recipient of which receives an exhibit at the store.

Alumna Susan Sanders Block, who has helped organize the show for 24 years, sponsors the Silver Ripper Award, presented to one outstanding junior. The Fashion Design Program sponsors the Fashion Citizenship Award, presented to one outstanding sophomore.

The show begins at 5 p.m. and will be followed by a reception for the designers at 5:30 p.m. Advance VIP tickets — which include front-row seating, a gift bag and a pre-show event sponsored by the St. Louis Fashion Fund — are $125.

General admission tickets (i.e. second- and third-row seating) are $50, or $20 for standing-room-only. 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 or search #wustlfashion on Twitter and Instagram.

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