The Fashion Show: A roaring revival


Models wearing senior Hannah Swanson’s ‘Wild Flower’ collection walk down the runway at Stephens Auditorium April 9. The Fashion Show, which has been held annually for the past 34 years, is one of the largest student-run fashion shows in the nation. 

Hannah Dodds and Brittany Moon

Students’ self-designed stitches were showcased at the 34th annual production of the Fashion Show on Saturday to a nearly-filled house. 

The production was planned and implemented completely by students and supported by the ISU apparel, merchandising and design program.

A geometric, Gatsby-inspired backdrop hung from the tall ceilings at Stephens Auditorium. As the centered structure transformed to golden architectural pipes, ISU students proved their creativity to be on a level comparable with New York Fashion Week once again.

A radio voice-over spoke to the audience as the curtains dropped and the audience was invited into a Great Gatsby inspired party. The Art Deco themed event began flawlessly as the first model walked the runway in a vintage white gown constructed by Molly Kluesner. The show continued with upbeat, ’20s- style music, methodically paced runway walks and a set decked with structured design elements.

Vintage-inspired clothing dominated the first half of the show. Flowing from floral prints to pops of color and finishing with a grayscale of business attire, spring was in the air. Models waltzed down the runway in audacious, colorful prints. Open-back garments also caught the eye of the audience. This influential feature was seen in a strong amount of student work.

Young children also had their chance to shine on stage. Many designers took the opportunity to expand their work to new age groups. The garments were utilitarian and bright, as children’s wear should be.

Closing the first half of the Roaring Revival, designs shifted to a contemporary business-like look, preparing the audience for the second half.

After a short intermission, guest designer Hannah Leavell took the stage, presenting the Vineyard Vines Spring 2016 collection.

“The collection, Anguilla, was inspired by the passion for vacation and ‘the good life,'” Leavell said. “Everyone can find something.”

The color-popping outfits covered a range of children’s wear to clothing for teens and adults. Designs seen on the runway can be found in stores and online.

Rachel Zierke, senior in apparel, merchandising and design, had a collection featured Saturday, along with two stand-alone garments and an illustration piece. Since she will be graduating in May, this was her first and last show to have pieces featured.

Her Lily of the Valley reception jumpsuit and wedding gown received third place, while her special occassion cocktail dress, called the Rorschach Effect, came in first place in the bridal collection, Zierke said.

“I was inspired by the story I had created in my mind,” Zierke said. “I was doing a custom bridal collection for one bride, and when I began to develop who she was, her lifestyle, her husband, the wedding, her budget, her whole life story … I was this giant snowball effect.”

However, entering her creations into the show did not come as easily as the inspiration.

“The process [of submitting pieces] was easy,” Zierke said. “The waiting was daunting, especially after judging day. We all were refreshing our emails a thousand times to uncover the email that determined if your designs were accepted or not.”

Inspiration for her wearable art dress inspired other dresses, Zierke said.

“For my wearable art dress, Ode to Mucha, it was just that: a piece dedicated to my favorite artist, Alphonse Mucha,” she said. “I am very inspired by his work during the Art Nouveau movement and I wanted to reflect that in my dress. As for the Rorschach Effect dress, I was inspired by the intricacy of ink blot tests. I wanted to channel the twisted nature of old psychological tests, much like the one Rorschach pioneered.” 

Zierke also had advice for other designers

“My advice is to be fearless,” she said. “Never play it safe. If that means you haven’t slept in two days and your gown with intricate pattern work is still unfinished when you present, know that you are a student and you are meant to learn and work through mistakes.”

The second half transitioned into a high-fashion runway show. Featuring extravagant designs and a strong beat, the runway turned into a geometric pathway. The volume of the music increased and models strutted at a swift pace. Models’ hairstyles escaped from pinned back waves to windblown curls, in contrast to the first half of the show. The lip color was also altered from a flaring burgundy to a soft peach.

Structured, sheer designs were a popular trend in the final portion of Saturday night’s event. While some garments had small mesh accents, others were completely see-through.

Student designers also took advantage of the laser-cutting technology offered by the apparel, merchandising and design program.

The bold yellow and black design named “Scaled,” by graduate student Katie Thompson, portrayed what can be accomplished by use of this technology. The bumblebee-like dress designed with overlays of different textures had the audience “oohing” and “ahh-ing.”

Though relating trends from runways in Paris and New York to Ames is not necessarily a prerequisite to having garments in the show, many students made it apparent they had found inspiration from these big cities.

“Deliberate Clothing,” a senior collection created by Beth Sauer, seemed to be influenced by fall and winter 2016 trends. Suede color-blocking combined with fringe showed that one can bring contrast to an otherwise structured look.

Molly Kluesner’s collection named “Merivale” touched on the more risqué side of fashion, featuring skin baring skirts and elegant hues. 

Use of unconventional elements was also present. Wearable Art winner, Elizabeth Kraidich, took advantage of mixing leather with geometric patterns. Her piece, “Tiered Chromium,” expressed the creativity of designers and the work that goes into creating a piece.  

One student in attendance, Anna Hubbard, sophomore in apparel, merchandising and design, said she enjoyed this year’s production.

“The set was fantastic,” Hubbard said. “The music fit the theme very well, and all of the designs were very cool and well-made. I enjoyed seeing all of the designs, the variety and the material used to make them. The guest designer was a nice twist.”

The producers promised us a night of energy, elegance and excitement. The diversity in the designs kept the audience on the edges of their seats, while the designers constantly delivered stunning and original work.