Rock the Runway music and visuals get moody

Anthony Dominic

Edgy, dark and sexy.

Jennifer Gunnoe, marketing coordinator of Kent Student Center Programming, said these three words will define the atmosphere at the 7th annual Rock the Runway fashion show, to be held Thursday at 8 p.m. in the Student Center Ballroom. The theme for this year’s show is Venetian carnival.

“It always starts with the music,” Gunnoe said of the show’s planning process. “We threw around a lot of different ideas this year, but in the end, I knew I wanted it to be something edgy, dark and sexy.”

Rock the Runway fashion show. Thursday at 8 p.m.
Student Center Ballroom
Doors open at 7 p.m.

One of Gunnoe’s managers suggested Alex Sheridan, an independent musician and DJ from Marion, Ohio, compose the music for the show. She then talked to Sheridan about what music she was looking for.

Gunnoe said he almost immediately produced samples that were “spot on” and “exactly what they were looking for.”

The music’s genre, popularized by bands such as Deep Forest and Blue Stone, is known as “ethno-introspective ambient world music,” Gunnoe said.

“I think this style of music will create a whole new environment for a fashion show,” Sheridan said. “It creates a surreal atmosphere, incorporating Gregorian chants and being very ambient and even dark.”

Gunnoe said unlike in select previous years, she wanted the show to be a “full live event” and requested Sheridan perform the music live.

“Instead of just having music play over a PA system, I really wanted a live element,” Gunnoe said. “It would be entertaining and make the entire show feel cohesive.”

Sheridan said though some of the song’s beats are electronically programmed and will loop on a computer, he and collaborator Ben Zucker will be able to recreate the music using live instruments.

“I’ll be using a turntable, keyboards and a vocoder, and Ben will be doing a lot of ambient guitar work,” Sheridan said. “We’re going to try and make it as interesting as possible.”

After deciding on music, Gunnoe said she had to envision how such a specific sound would “look.”

“We liked the idea of incorporating masks,” Gunnoe said. “And the music itself is very decadent and edgy, and we realized that Venetian carnival embodies all of those things.”

Gunnoe recruited Emma Rucker, junior fine arts major, to help design the show’s set. Rucker spent extensive time over the past year studying abroad in Italy where she was able to attend a real Venetian carnival.

Rucker painted 10 large backdrops for the show’s stage on poster-board material. She said she used pictures and videos she took in Italy for inspiration.

“They’re very abstract, but at the same time, you can definitely see things in them,” Rucker said of her paintings. “It’s very easy to get lost in them — just like the cities there.”

Rucker said the streets of Venice are covered in large amounts of trash, and she plans to place items that appear to be garbage around her paintings during the show to recreate that feel. She also said she heavily incorporated graffiti-like styles into her paintings.

“There are so many beautiful historic buildings in Venice, and so many of them are covered in really elaborate graffiti,” Rucker said. “I always wanted to work with that kind of style, and this was the perfect opportunity to do so.”

Gunnoe said she is pleased with the new elements of this year’s show and KSCP is already discussing ideas for 2012.

“We don’t just want the music here, the decorations there and then the models and designers doing their thing,” Gunnoe said. “We want it all to go together in an exciting way that keeps the audience engaged, and I think we’ve achieved that this year.”

Doors open for the show at 7 p.m. and all attendees will receive Venetian masks to wear.

Contact Anthony Dominic at [email protected].