Fashion show lets WMU students show their creativity

Apr 8, 2013

Fashion design students working around the clock at the WMU sewing lab.
Credit Rebecca Thiele, WMUK

Think about the shirt you’re wearing today. Although it was probably made in a factory somewhere, at one time that style was just someone’s idea. Someone designed it, cut out a pattern, cut or ripped the fabric, sewed it together, and prepped it for the runway.

That’s what Western Michigan University design students have been doing since December to prepare for their annual fashion show. The show put on by WMU’s Merchandising Opportunities and Design Association will be at the Kalamazoo Expo Center Friday and Saturday night starting at 8 p.m.

Last week, student designers were rushing to complete their clothing lines.

“We put a lot of sweat, tears, and blood into this,” says WMU student Takudzwa Chiduma.“On that final day, I think that everybody just sees the glamorousness of all of it. Like, ‘Oh, she made a collection and she looks cute.’ But it’s actually a lot of work, like I think I’ve had six hours of sleep this week.”

Clowie Rinehart uses a sewing machine to stitch together one of her Egyptian inspired dresses.
Credit Rebecca Thiele, WMUK

This year’s show is called Copacetic Couture and it has a 1920’s theme. Though some student designers incorporated this theme into their line, don’t expect to see a bunch of flapper dresses and suspenders. MODA Vice President Clowie Rinehart says the theme mostly applies to the decorations and the models’ look.

“Finger-weaving. Very close to the—curls very close to the head. The hair on the side is going to be in a small little bun,” she says. “The eyes, for makeup, are going to be very…kind of dramatic. Not too much, but definitely something that you would see on the red carpet."

Christina Chatman is on MODA’s executive board. She says all of the designers had to audition with three faculty members to be in the show.

“So they have to have a board, which is the inspiration board for their line. They have to have sketches. They have to have either fabric swatches or like a color palette,” says Chatman. “And they go through an interview process with the professors and we let them know if they got in the show or not.”

Student designer Caleigh Burgess says she took the inspiration for her line from Greek mythology.

“I was inspired by the Garden of Hesperides and hesperides are Greek goddesses of sunset," she says. "So, my line is really sexy and ethereal, and really pretty and all draped.”

Taylor Swaim was also inspired by a sunset, but she took a much different approach to the idea.

“I designed a pattern called the ‘Infinity Pattern’ which is just a continuous line all over the body,” says Swaim.

More than 30 designers are participating in the show, including a few designers from local high schools. While most of the student lines will be more ‘wearable,’ 10 student designers will show avant-garde pieces. MODA executive board member Kaitlyn Mitchell and her friend Emily Elizabeth Scott are designing an avant-garde dress.

“It has to be dramatic, something people wouldn’t wear in everyday life,” says Mitchell. “Has to stand out and it just basically has to wow the audience.”

Scott describes what their dress will look like once it’s finished.

“Ours has actually this huge floral back that comes up above the model’s head. So it’s definitely not modern-day wear,” she says. “It’s like a halter. It’s all black except for the skirt is this really—a bunch of tulle. It’s very like big and wide, similar to a wedding gown. Very poufy with this very dark periwinkle sort of color.”

Many of the students in the show have to buy all of the fabric and materials to make their clothing, which can be pretty expensive. In past years, the Western Student Association helped fund the show but this year Chatman says MODA is funding it on its own. She says the show may be a challenge but once the models hit the runway, it’s all worth it.

“What we do for design is for the teachers’ criterias, so this is our opportunity to be creative. Anything they ever wanted to do. To learn something, they can learn from the professors that help them," Chatman says. "It’s just their avenue to be as creative as they want to be.”

You can see the fashion show put on by WMU’s Merchandising Opportunities and Design Association. Models will be on the runway at the Kalamazoo Expo Center Friday and Saturday night starting at 8. Some of the money raised at the show will go to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.