Fashion show highlights seniors’ designs

Lauren Carll

A design by Kyle Smith, senior fashion design major, is displayed on the runway at Friday night’s Portfolio fashion show. Caitlin Prarat | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: Ron Soltys

High-waisted skirts? Check. Contemporary men’s wear? Check. Blue and white children’s wear with A-line hems and dainty ruffle details? Check. Elegant empire waist chiffon bridal gowns with plenty of intricate embellishments? Check.

The audience at this weekend’s Senior Portfolio 2008, themed “Metamorphosis,” saw a little bit of everything as models strutted down the runway in the Rockwell Auditorium.

Eighteen senior fashion design majors worked on their garments for countless hours throughout the year, and with the blink of an eye, their busy, adrenaline-filled weekend was over.

Elizabeth Rhodes, director of the School of Fashion Design and Merchandising, opened the show by commending all of the students who were involved with the production’s success.

“We have the designs of fashion design majors modeled on the runway by many different majors at Kent State University,” she said. “The show itself was created under the direction of Ms. Shammi Chowdhury and the Fashion Show Productions class, which involves a lot of our merchandising students.

“The photojournalism students got involved in doing photographs for us, and the Glyphix students got involved in creating a new view book for our school. And so, all in all, the show involves many majors, many students and many activities and highlights what Kent State University is really all about.”

Maggie Hill, a senior fashion design major who had a ski wear collection in the show, said she drew inspiration for her line from a Mexican holiday.

“My inspiration was the Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead,” Hill said.

“Since the overall theme was ‘Metamorphosis,’ I chose my theme because there was a really great saying about how Mexicans believe that death was rebirthing into the after life. I liked it because it was a really bright and happy holiday, and so, I used bright colors and big, consuming hoods that were sort of over-taking death.”

The sound of trickling rain filled the auditorium as Kristy Chen’s line of cocktail dresses with metal-like embellishments made its way down the runway.

“My theme, which went off the theme, ‘Metamorphosis,’ was erosion, and it was kind of the hard versus soft look,” said Chen, senior fashion design and merchandising major. “I really wanted to do evening wear, and then I wanted to incorporate the theme as well. That, to me, is how I like to design, like playing with positive and negative things. Since my collection is winter and fall, I looked at a lot of rocks and stones, and they had the black and purplish colors that I used in my line.”

The senior designers were not the only ones working hard for a successful show.

Chuck Falk, a student in the Fashion Show Productions class, said he, along with the rest of the class, was working hard all semester. Falk was in the music committee, and he said the backstage business ran very well.

“I was the guy cueing all the models,” he said. “I think the show went really well, and backstage was very smooth. All of the dressers got the models dressed with more than enough time. I was really impressed because there were a lot of quick changes.”

Heather Carone, a sophomore fashion merchandising major who was a model in the show, said although preparation and practices took up a lot of her time, she was glad to be a part of it all.

“We’ve been practicing for weeks,” Carone said. “It’s been a little difficult balancing it all with school, but I just get so caught up in the show that I don’t let it bother me. Being in the show has just been so much fun.”

Fashion School honors

Michael Weiss, president and CEO of Express, received the Fashion School Hall of Fame Award. He spoke to a full house of students about his journey to success Friday afternoon in the museum’s Murphy Auditorium.

Weiss said he was not a fashion major in college. He graduated from Syracuse University with an English degree, but found “there wasn’t much money in trying to sell verbs.”

He said he had family members who sewed and modeled, so he started working in department stores with fabulous training programs. Later on, he became a buyer, then a manager and a merchandiser. He began his career with Limited Brands in 1981 as the merchandise manager for an eight-store experimental division, which became Express.

Weiss told the students they should be proud to be a fashion student at Kent State.

“Kent has a very good reputation as a fashion school,” he said. “It has a lot of opportunities that other schools do not. As long as you take what you learn here and apply it to the ‘real world,’ you will be successful.”

Friday night’s fashion show was dedicated to Geneva Damron for her hard work within the school. She served as president of Friends of Fashion, a volunteer organization that, under Damron’s direction from 1996 to 2007, helped raise more than $171,000 to support the museum and the school.

Contact fashion reporter Lauren Carll at [email protected].