Fashion Forecast: Kent students to show at China Fashion Week

Emily Inverso

Staci Moening woke up to a phone call from her friend. In seconds, they were screaming with excitement. Moening ran to the living room and woke all her friends. While struggling to wake up, they offered congratulations to their jumping and screaming friend as she shared the news:

“I’m going to Beijing!”

Meet the Finalists

Zachary Hoh

Age: 25

Collection inspiration: “My inspiration was arts and crafts period pottery. It also has to do with apparel from the women’s suffrage movement, in terms of women working in the pottery.”

How will you pack?: “I haven’t thought about that yet. I have to finish sewing this stuff first.”

Samantha Woodard

Age: 24

Collection inspiration: “It was chemical reaction, so I kind of took the visual shape and formulas that you would use and put together something a little rogue scientist would wear in the field.”

How will you pack?: “Very carefully, probably my most favorite clothes, whatever I feel that is a little bit stylish. Whatever I feel represents me as a person and a designer.”

Vanecia Kirkland

Age: 21

Collection Inspiration: “My inspiration was African tribal wear. I basically mixed elements of street wear fashion and mixed it with high fashion.”

How will you pack?: “I’m going to pack my usual T-shirts and jeans. I’m not really a dressy type of person, so just comfortable clothes.”

Caitlin Nugent

Age: 22

Collection Inspiration: “My inspiration was black holes in space and a horizon, which is an invisible boundary around the black hole. Once you pass it, you’re lost from the universe, not even light can even escape the gravity. I researched some of the facts and shapes of the imagery and used blacks and blues.”

How will you pack?: “I don’t know! No idea. All I know is in a suitcase.”

Staci Moening

Age: 21

Collection Inspiration: “My collection was inspired by the emotions of a conscientious objector, and how they embrace their moral instinct rather than going along with what society expects of them. The monochromatic black silhouettes are meant to represent feelings of depth, strength, and perspective. I played with shape, asymmetry, and leather detailing to convey the idea of objection, while also using sheer fabrics and cutouts to represent the sensitivity that we, as human beings, hold towards our beliefs and morals.”

How will you pack?: “I have no idea. I’m sure it’ll all work out though. I didn’t have time to think about it.”

Abigail Drake

Age: 24

Collection Inspiration: “My inspiration was fairy tale of love and the airiness of it. I wanted my collection to be something you couldn’t take your eyes off, something so beautiful, airy and organic.”

How will you pack?: “No idea yet. I’ll start thinking about that once I turn this stuff in.”

Bethany Clark

Age: 21

Collection Inspiration: “It is called Extremophile, inspired by bacteria and how they naturally grow out of the cells to form beautiful organic structures. I used lots of natural folding and draping to sort of mimic the growth of bacteria.”

How will you pack?: “I’m usually a good packer because I traveled to New York and Italy before, so I pack very minimal. I’m going to need a very chic dress for the show.”

Seven fashion design students will show their senior collections in China Fashion Week this March. The all-expense paid opportunity is part of a partnership program with China Central Academy of Fine Arts.

“What the schools across China have done really well at, along with the partnership of their local government, is decided that they really want to become better known on the international level,” said J.R. Campbell, director of the fashion school. “As of yet, people aren’t too internationally aware of the fashion school here, but it’s getting better.”

For now, the tentative plans are for the seven finalists—Moening, Bethany Clark, Abby Drake, Sam Woodard, Zachary Hoh, Vanecia Kirkland and Caitlin Nugent—along with three faculty members—Campbell, Linda Ohrn-McDaniel and Sherry Schofield-Tomschin—to fly to Beijing during Spring Break.

After adjusting to the 13-hour time difference, their provisional runway event is March 29 at a location yet to be announced. Students from CAFA will show about 40 looks in the event alongside Campbell’s estimated 28 from Kent State students. While the students will show as individual designers by collection, they will be in a greater context as CAFA’s international partner.

“I am nervous, but it’s a new experience,” said Drake, senior fashion design major and Beijing finalist. “I’ve never been to China and probably never would have gone to China had I not been chosen for this.”

The new venture will hopefully include time to tour CAFA and sights like the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, Campbell said. The professors accompanying him are attempting to educate themselves as well.

“We’re hoping we can help the students be orderly, fashionable and professional,” Schofield-Tomschin said. “Maybe we’ll make a connection with a faculty member in China. We could do some sort of a joint project with and make a connection academically, but we’re also hoping we get to see what they do differently and incorporate it here.”

The trip will last approximately seven days, with students and faculty returning the week after Spring Break.

“People in Beijing are more adventurous in their style and what they wear, with more diversity in terms of silhouettes and fabrications,” Campbell said. “I’m excited for it because I know they’re not only going to get to see some really amazing work, but also see how their work is received on a totally new market.”

The formal invitation

In November, Campbell and professor Vincent Quevedo traveled to Seoul, South Korea, for the International Fashion Art Biennale. There, they won a joint award as International Artist of the Year and met Aluna-Yue Lu, dean of CAFA’s fashion department. Campbell said she was interested to know more about Kent, and she offered the partnership at their first meeting.

“She talked about how they have a program that’s sponsored in part by the Beijing Municipal Government to have their school partner with another international school,” Campbell said. “The cool thing about that was it is essentially all expenses paid for 10 people to go.”

While the partnership is a one-time opportunity, he said it will give Kent State faculty the opportunity to make connections for future exchange opportunities.

“We’re almost as excited as the students are about it,” Ohrn-McDaniel said. “We’re trying to be very professional about it like ‘Oh, yeah, we’re big hot-shots. We do this all the time,’ but it’s very exciting.”

Paring down

Kent State fashion students did not officially learn about the opportunity, though, until this semester. Campbell told all of the seniors in January. Instructor Paula Dancie and professors Ohrn-McDaniel, Schofield-Tomschin and Noel Palomo-Lovinski joined Campbell as the critiquing committee.

“We waited until they had completed two of their four garments before judging,” Ohrn-McDaniel said. “It was important for me to step away from the students and try to look at the garments that were there, just looking at the collections, the pieces they had turned in, the quality of constructions and the aesthetic of the design.”

The seniors also chose their top five favorite senior collections. With that input and their own decisions, the judges chose 13 semi-finalists from the original 49 students the same day.

“We were notified by e-mail that we were among the final 13,” said Clark, senior fashion design major and Beijing finalist. “We were supposed to interview the next day, but then we had two snow days. There was a little bit more suspense and stress then.”

Campbell and Schofield-Tomschin then sat down with the semi-finalists individually to discuss their collections and what the trip would mean to them. Seven finalists were selected the same day, and the students received their official e-mail congratulations the next morning.

“I hadn’t seen the e-mail when Abby called to tell me,” Moening said. “I really couldn’t believe it. I am nervous, but I’m really looking forward to traveling, and I’m very interested to see how the industry works globally. This is just so huge and unreal.”

Contact Yelena Tischenko (contributed reporter) at [email protected].

Contact Emily Inverso at [email protected].