The works showcased at the Selvedge Fashion Show exceeded the expectations of passive viewers, who became active spectators, searching for the inspirations behind nearly 100 pieces from over 20 student designers, modeled by over 20 women and one man.
The show at the Monona Terrace on Saturday May 1, explored four themes: ""Innocence,"" ""Rebellion,"" ""Passion"" and ""Imagination."" Overall, the different themes did not unify the pieces as much as provide set breaks with narrated poetry, each conveying different moods with varying lighting, songs and attitudes of the models. This allowed for designers to identify with the given theme, but also to have plenty of leeway to style their pieces individually.
The first theme, ""Innocence,"" was the most cohesive and contained some of the most wearable pieces. Designers went with simple texture contrasts and mellow color choices. Laura Chidester's Green Dress proved to be one of the more simple, yet fantastically flawless spring additions to the group; Ariel Gold's two ""In the Garden"" pieces were light and cute, yet heartbreakingly mature. An absolute favorite of the ""Innocence"" set was unexpected: Lauralyn Renn's fantastic Duality modeled by Yer Lee. The piece had a masculine overtone in the pant cut while the top previewed what is sure to be seen [finally] in America for the summer 2010: a classy cropped baggy cut that leaves room for a sophisticated midriff.
The ""Rebellion"" chapter of the show carried an aggressive tone and showcased a higher variety of cuts, colors, overlaying textures and materials. It exhibited a rougher feminine character and varied in levels of complexity. Lauren Peterson modeled a jagged, dark flowing piece that demonstrated how seemingly conflicting extremes can coexist under this rebellious mindset: a short, flowing frontal cut paired with a lengthy train; a patchwork design outlined with sparkling rhinestones; and the neutral grays contrasting sharply with the high leather boots. This ""Wolf in Sheep's Clothing"" piece was bravely designed and well executed by designer Kate Van Asten. One of the more casual yet bold pieces, Grotesque, featured many pieces that were not seen anywhere else in the production. Libby Peterkort designed an oversized red scarf, masking the entire face of model, Prudence Yungerman, as well as a pair of shorts and shredded red-roped tights combination, a style that we Wisconsinites were eager to embrace for the spring season.
Tessa Brown's Exultation set the stage for the ""Passion"" section of the show, and any dispelled any doubt that sultriness was going to be absent from the afternoon's presentation. The gown had a gorgeous skeletal fit on top and grew to resemble an overflowing bouquet of roses all the way to the floor. The precise layering mixed with a high vertical slit demonstrated sophistication and precision from the designer.
It was clear that the designers took the ""Imagination"" theme as an opportunity to be creative with their own personal style. While this did not necessarily lend itself to cohesiveness between the pieces, it provided the sort of ‘big bang' the audience appreciated to end the show. Melissa Farrar dominated this final chapter with her Anatomy of a Dream series. The most unique set of the series was called Repetition, displaying three models each wearing electric blue turtleneck dresses that covered half of their face. The sleeves flowed down to the floor and dragged as they walked, leading eyes to the next clone-like model. Farrar ended her series, and the show, with a similar blue-hued radial wing-set on the final model, Melissa Zembrowski. It seemed as if the energy of the show was leading up to these final moments, and viewers forgot they had even witnessed the calmer and simpler attires earlier in the evening.
The production ended, and the feelings among viewers were common: the energy and level of creativity was undeniable as exemplified by smiles and eagerness in conversation. These young designers proved themselves to be competent, skilled and creative. We should take their work as a sign that the future of fashion is in capable and nimble hands.
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