The 34th Annual Fashion Show returns to Rockwell Hall

Amani Williams / The Kent Stater Senior fashion design major Calvin Brant on Friday April 22, 2016. Brant says that his designs are inspired by social issues.

Taylor Pierce

The 34th Annual Fashion Show hosted by Kent State’s Fashion School will showcase outfits from senior fashion design majors this Friday and Saturday in Rockwell Hall.

The theme for the show this year is “FS2: Crescendo,” and is meant to put an emphasis on the idea that everything has a reaction.

According to Abby Steger, a senior fashion design major as well as a catalog coordinator and designer liaison for the show, there will be 194 looks featured in this year’s show.

Kathryn Reaven, senior fashion merchandising major, is the public relations/social media coordinator for the show.

Reaven said the annual fashion show is one of the largest and most impactful events hosted by the Fashion School.

“It (has) such a huge impact on students, the general public and industry insiders,” Reaven said. “Every year it gets greater and larger and it’s so cool to know that Kent (State) is so well known for their fashion program. Without the show, we wouldn’t be able to show everyone what we have.” 

Reaven said she is most looking forward to the student designers’ work being debuted to the public.

“I’m really looking forward to when the first piece and collections come out,” Reaven said. “Seeing all the designers’ hard work debut for our guests is such an awesome feeling, knowing that you helped make it happen within the production.”

In order for their designs to be considered, fashion design students have to submit work for a panel of industry professionals for a revision process.

Calvin Brant, a senior fashion design major, is one of the seniors chosen to have his designs presented in the fashion show.

Brant said a panel of industry professionals partnered with J.R. Campbell, a professor and director of the Fashion School, chooses which looks to feature in the show.

“During the month of March, a panel of industry professionals came in to view our collections. That panel, with the advice of Campbell, decided what looks were strong enough to proceed to the fashion show,” Brant said. “At that point, they would also re-style some pieces if they saw it stronger that way.”

Brant said the design process involved a lot of self-doubt and learning how to apply feedback during critiques.

“As I designed the collection, there were a few critique points we had to pass. Getting the critique, doing all of this work and receiving feedback (was) quite hard,” Brant said. “There was also a lot of creative problem solving involved.”

Brant’s collection was inspired by different social problems he has viewed in today’s society.

“A lot of social problems inspire me as a designer. The news essentially inspires me,” Brant said. “There are so many populations of people under all of these unseen hegemonies around us.”

Brant titled his collection “The Absent Legion,” and said he based it off of women (who) be believes are absent from history. 

“It’s that absenteeism that created much of the systemic sexism we have in our culture today, Brant said. “So, I developed a retaliatory design philosophy to approach that and counteract it.”

His collection reflects notes of feminism, intersectional ties of society and sustainability.

“I thought about how my designs impacted the environment and also took into account the future too. From there, that’s how ‘The Absent Legion’ was created,” Brant said.

Brant kept an ideal customer in mind while creating his collection. The pieces pieces made are ones that can be worn during any season.  

“The materials were sort of categorized into approaching them as a seasonless collection. I couldn’t really tell my customer what to wear and when to wear it,” Brant said. “So I just wanted to make an absolute cohesive collection that could be plugged into a wardrobe without the restrictions of season, age or trends. It needed to overstep all these things.”

Brant said the fashion show has allowed him to better understand the production process that goes into making a collection.

“I’ve gained so much from this experience,” Brant said. “Producing a collection, taking it from conceptual sketches to prototypes, getting fabrics and making it into garments. There are many decisions that you have to be comfortable with on the journey that leads to a strong collection.”

Steger was another student selected to have her designs showcased in the fashion show.

Steger also questioned her design process; she said it was hard to know when to apply feedback to her work.

“The number one challenge faced during the creation of these designs was self-doubt. I think that’s something that all creative majors face,” Steger said. “Receiving feedback and great advice, but not knowing when to go for it can be difficult.”

Steger titled her collection ‘Material Memoir’ and said Bob Dylan and his social beliefs largely inspired it.

“The initial inspiration came from Bob Dylan and the way he told stories throughout the 20th century to promote his social beliefs,” Steger said. “I am very interested in sustainable design as well as knitwear, and anything that has a strong history in hand craft. Fashion—of course—does, but a lot of the humanity has been taken out of it.”

Steger used vintage clothing to make new, sustainable looks for her collection.

“I think people have lost touch with the human side of fashion, so I wanted to tell the story of how clothing is made and the story of the people that make it,” Steger said. “I used vintage jeans and repurposed them into new clothing. I incorporated some historical Japanese restore techniques, like Sachiko embroidery.”

Steger said having her designs selected for the fashion show has been something she has always dreamt of.

“I(’ve) always wanted to come to the Fashion School and I always dreamt about what I was going to make for my senior collection,” Steger said. “It’s our capstone moment; it’s a quick snapshot of who we are as a designer and what we want to say with our aesthetic.”

Emily Hall, a sophomore fashion merchandising major, worked as a dresser for the fashion show last year. She said the show is a great way for people to understand the talent within the Fashion School.

“The Annual Fashion Show is very important because it is a great way for people to see how creative and talented the students in the fashion program are,” Hall said. “The show is a way for seniors to showcase everything that they have learned over their four years at the school.”

Hall said anyone interested in fashion could benefit from attending the show.

“I think the most significant part of the show is seeing the designs and what the designers were inspired by when creating their collections,” Hall said. “I believe industry professionals, students and anyone interested in fashion could benefit from viewing this show. It is amazing and I am so happy I get to be a part of it.”

The number of tickets sold and looks featured has grown significantly from last year’s show.

The Annual Fashion Show has sold over 400 tickets for both showings on Friday and over 200 tickets for the showing on Saturday. 

For more information visit its website

Taylor Pierce is a fashion reporter for The Kent Stater, contact her at [email protected]