On May 10, the South Loop’s Conaway Center was transformed into an enchanted forest. A silver scrim was overcast with leafy shadows, and somber-faced “trees” were awash in glittery face paint. Students in Nena Ivon’s Advanced Fashion Show Production class were responsible for every aspect of Fashion Columbia 2007, from hiring makeup artists to selecting music.
Jen Grygiel, a student designer and one of the show’s producers, describes the months-long preparation process. “Students…have from September through mid-April to construct pieces for the show,” she explains. “[Some] seniors choose to submit their entire senior thesis collections, while under classmen submit…designs from different courses.”
The theme of the two-runway fashion show was “Modern Energy,” and the evening’s signature color was acid green. “The Modern Energy theme was incorporated…in many different ways,” Grygiel says. “Some pieces were literal, with battery-powered lights and computer-circuitry-inspired wearable art. Other designs related modern energy through corporal extensions, [which is] a design feature [like] bustles or trains that extends the amount of space [the garment] consumes.” The clearly well-read designer adds that the students used different kinds of embellishment, including, “intrinsic adornments, [which are] details with traditional enchantments and meanings, like stones, gems and jewels, and sartorial adornments, like embroidery and hand-dyeing.”
Throughout the smooth, eight-scene show, Modern Energy sauntered down the runway in Grygiel’s undeniably-chic Technology Corset, adorned with colorful computer innards, Kaytie Selch’s edgy Phone-Cord Dress and Darren Hallowell’s Computer Circuit-Panel Dress. The whimsical first scene segued into a presentation of—gasp—wearable couture. An all-too-familiar student trap is to aim for attention through just plain weirdness; but the Columbia students took the high road, proving themselves to be serious—and seriously talented—designers. Pieces like Michelle Post’s Daffodil-Yellow Halter Dress, Erin Kay Locksley Sanders’ Plaid Halter-Woven Bodice Dress (which set the whole front row into an ecstatic twitter) and Nazia Zamani’s wallpaper-print cotton-ball gown were ready to be plucked from the runway and worn about town. To learn more about—or better yet, hire—the newly graduated student designers, log onto portfolio.colum.edu/fashionseniors2007. (Jennifer Berg)