It all starts with the cloth.
“This year’s show builds on contemporary innovations in textile design,” said Mary Ruppert-Stroescu, an associate professor and head of fashion design in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis.
Ruppert-Stroescu was discussing the Sam Fox School’s 94th Annual Fashion Design Show, which will take place Saturday, April 22, in WashU’s historic Holmes Lounge. One of the oldest such events in the nation, it will feature dozens of models wearing scores of outfits exploring the intersection of clothing and culture.
“Each graduating senior has created some kind of special textile for their collection,” added Ruppert-Stroescu, an authority on sustainable design and how new technologies shape fashion innovation. “Another strong element has been using biodegradable materials. These designers are really pushing the boundaries of concept and allowing viewers to hear their distinctive voices.”
Ideation and realization
The show will open with accessories created as part of an introduction to design and creativity taught by visiting lecturer Jason Ross, founder and creative director of fashion label Artemas Quibble. Next will be hand-dyed silk sleepwear; casual looks incorporating digital prints and laser-cutting; shirt and pant looks; tailored coats; and gala gowns.
As in previous years, the show will highlight capstone collections by graduating fashion design majors. Based on months of research, each collection employs a distinctive visual vocabulary and design aesthetic reflecting a rigorous process of research, development, ideation and prototyping.
Zinaida Calixte will present “Cut-edge.” The collection — whose punning title was inspired by mathematician Leonhard Euler, founder of graph theory — explores themes of connectivity and juxtaposition, bridging streetwear and lingerie, denim and chiffon, animal prints as well as florals.
In “Lady Like,” Olivia Baba explores themes of health, shame and empowerment. Radiating lines and tight, asymmetrical silhouettes reference the isolation and confusion of chronic pain, while strategically placed pleats and gathers create fresh, unexpected focal points.
Madelyn Savitch, in her collection “Lilith,” merges dissonant elements while reimagining traditional gender roles. Vintage lace and Victorian corsets are juxtaposed with upcycled, laser-cut leather and confident contemporary silhouettes.
With “Moments,” Mackenzie Llewellyn captures the beauty, stability and exquisitely detailed foundations of a loving marriage. Drawing inspiration and motifs from Victorian architecture, Llewellyn’s wedding sets evoke an atmosphere of joy and romance.
In “Spiritual Erosion,” Connor Seger creates both an immersive experience and cautionary tale. Fine silks and wools, burnt and stained and emerging from sweeping folds of black, speak to powerful political and religious landscapes and the perilous pollution of the spirit.
Sponsors and awards
The Fashion Design Show is coordinated by Ruppert-Stroescu and sponsored by Caleres, Tacony Corp., Mother Model Management, Hermann Oak Leather and Lux & Nyx, with support from Dominic Bertani and Susan Sanders Block.
The evening also will feature several departmental awards, including:
The Dominic Michael Silver Scissors Designer of the Year Award. Sponsored by the Dominic Michael Salon for more than two decades, the award is presented to the senior fashion design student who has shown compelling creativity and exceptional skill in fashion design conception and execution.
The Saks Fifth Honorary Designer Award, which recognizes a senior fashion design student whose collection is deemed most marketable.
The Stars Design Group Award, which awards mentorship, seed money, and studio space in the Couture Culture incubator to a student whose collection demonstrates high business potential.
The Silver Ripper Award, sponsored by alumna Susan Sanders Block Sanders, is presented to the sophomore or junior fashion design student who has demonstrated the most growth.
The Riverbend Textiles Sustainable Design Leadership Award, which recognizes exceptional thought and practice toward sustainable fashion design.
The Fashion Citizenship Award, presented to an outstanding second-year fashion design major who demonstrates good citizenship and community engagement.
The Future Talent in Bridal and Special Occasion Wear Award. Sponsored by alumna Paula Varsalona and the International Bridal Manufacturers Association, this award recognizes WashU students who are passionate about special occasion and bridal wear.
The 94th Annual Washington University Fashion Design Show will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 22, in WashU’s Holmes Lounge, located in Ridgley Hall. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. A “Meet & Greet” with the designers will immediately follow the show, in the atrium of Anabeth and John Weil Hall.
The fashion design show is free and open to the public, but tickets are extremely limited and advance registration is required. For more information, click here.