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Fashion talent on display at April 28 runway show

Chris Au
Mark Vorreuter
Designer Chris Au '15 tests the fit of his intended garment using muslin fabric.
Emily Parkinson
Mark Vorreuter
Inspired by wrought iron, designer Emily Parkinson '12 is using lasers to cut intricate designs into leather for her line of dresses and accessories. Model Katie Kelly '12 is fitted for one of the pieces.
Amelia Brown
Mark Vorreuter
Designer Amelia Brown '12 sews muslin fabric in the design studio of the new Human Ecology Building.

The expected crowd of nearly 3,000 people at the 28th annual Cornell Fashion Collective (CFC) runway show, set for Saturday, April 28, 7-9 p.m., at Barton Hall, might very well be treated to the work of "fashion's next superstar," according to faculty adviser Van Dyk Lewis.

The show, one of Cornell's largest and longest-running student-led events, will feature some 300 original pieces designed and crafted by 45 students, most from the Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design (FSAD) in the College of Human Ecology, but also with contributors studying architecture, biology, English and psychology. Student models come from nearly every major on campus, and they'll stroll down a runway partially conceived and built by architecture students.

"The show is dissimilar to end-of-year shows held at other universities, mainly because the collaboration is among students not faculty," said Lewis, FSAD associate professor. "Each year, students collaborate at an astonishingly high level: they deliberate, negotiate, manage, agree upon the theme and operations strategy, fundraise and balance a budget. We view it as an opportunity for campuswide participation allowing anyone to express their ideas about fashion without censorship."

Opening the event will be "a splash of jacquard" said Lea Freni '14, an apparel design student and head of production on the Cornell Pendleton Scholarship Team, which is in the fourth year of a partnership to create young menswear pieces with fabrics donated by Pendleton Woolen Mills, a classic American brand headed by Mort Bishop III '74. It will end with full lines by senior designers, each presenting up to 11 ensembles inspired by art, film, photography, architecture and nature.

"It's going to be a great show," promised CFC president Brittany Lutz '12, a fashion management student who began planning the event last fall with seven other executive board members, "from the freshman designer sending one piece on a 90-second walk down the runway to the seniors with full collections."

In a departure from past shows, part of the stage will be constructed by a small team of architecture students in collaboration with CFC leaders -- a partnership that saved thousands of dollars on the production. Together they're planning a truss system that mimics the architecture of Barton Hall and can be placed atop the entry to the runway.

Other highlights to watch this year include:

  • Presentation of the 2012 Cornell Fashion Design Award, a nationwide high school competition for aspiring designers, to Alyssa Kim from Paramus, N.J., who sketched a fanciful gown overlaid with electrical cables and threaded with copper wires that is being fabricated by a team of FSAD students;
  • An innovative, fashionable hooded body suit embedded at the molecular level with insecticides meant to ward off malaria-spreading mosquitoes, created by apparel design student Matilda Ceesay '13 and fiber science postdoctoral associate Frederick Ochanda, both natives of Africa; and
  • Eight looks by the Pendleton team, which combined the brand's iconic Native American jacquard with complementary solids to create effortlessly cool outerwear and loungewear.

Though their main focus is organizing the show, a $30,000 endeavor paid for largely through ticket sales, Lutz and her executive team also launched some new initiatives, including starting a newsletter to link alumni and students; launching a website; and creating mentoring experiences between upper- and lower-level designers.

Tickets are $10 presale and $15 at the door. For tickets and complete show information, visit

Ted Boscia is assistant director of communications for the College of Human Ecology.


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