At the 32nd Annual Cornell Fashion Collective (CFC) Runway Show, more than 100 student models, cast from across campus, will walk the runway wearing the original creations of 34 student designers for an expected crowd of more than 2,000 students, faculty, alumni and fashion fans.
When the lights go down at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 12, in Barton Hall, it’s a chance for CFC designers to shine – from first-year students presenting a single look to seniors who construct a full line, hoping their creations will propel them into the fashion world after graduation.
“My collection is a culmination of four years’ work,” said Rae Dagdagan ‘16, who studies fiber science and apparel design in the College of Human Ecology. “I look forward to seeing my pieces come together and their presentation at this year’s show. Clothing is a medium through which I find the truest form of expression, so this collection reflects my work from past few years and also acts as a push into what will come next.”
Dagdagan’s line, which features elongated and exaggerated shapes enlivened with accents of color, was inspired by her experiences living in Manhattan’s Alphabet City neighborhood last summer as an intern for the label Alexander Wang.
“The images in my mind are streets littered with ice cream wrappers, playgrounds, busted fire hydrants and the clash of new generations – college students and frequenters of First Avenue – merging with families and schoolkids about their neighborhood,” said Dagdagan, who received a grant from the Cornell Council for the Arts for her work.
With her collection of men’s and women’s sportswear, Linnea Fong ‘16 hopes to evoke the “limbo-like sensation of floating in water, as well as the state in which I often find myself when experiencing difficulties throughout the design process.”
Fong’s line incorporates backpacks and a simple aesthetic intended to appeal to active young people. She blended a variety of classic fabrics, including corduroy, velvet, leather, vinyl, wool and suede, along with high-tech applications such as laser cutting and digital printing.
The show’s atmosphere is “amazing and devastating at the same time because all of the hours that you’ve put in for the past six months depend on this one moment,” Fong said. “Suddenly after two minutes on the runway, it’s all over. It's a strange mix of overwhelming, yet rewarding emotions.”
Working to set the stage for designers like Fong and Dagdagan are the CFC executive board, led by president Eleni Toubanos ‘16 and vice president Brooke Barnett ‘16, faculty adviser Anita Racine and FSAD studio support specialist Kim Phoenix ’12, and dozens of volunteers.
The production offers not just a spotlight for designers, but also for the 25 fashion management students involved in planning every detail of the show, said Toubanos. “We began working last April to get ready for this year’s show. It takes coordination all across campus with Barton Hall managers, communications groups, Cornell Police, and various Cornell and community organizations to host an event of this size.”
Barnett said CFC tries to “stay two steps ahead of everything” in coordinating ticket sales, graphics, social media strategy, budgeting, show rundown and other production elements, but inevitably “there are unexpected challenges that come up.” She added: “The payoff will be standing backstage as it all comes to life and knowing that the audience is enjoying an event we worked so hard to produce.”
In keeping with recent tradition, futuristic smart garments will also take to the runway. The multidisciplinary Cornell Wearable Tech team, led by fiber science student Eric Beaudette ‘16 and Lina Sanchez Botero and Neal Reynolds, doctoral students in the fields of fiber science and physics, respectively, are planning an interactive gaming collection that explores real and virtual identities.
Integrating Wi-Fi modules, LED lights and electroluminescent tape, the clothing will strobe in response to spells and attacks waged between the good (blue) and evil (red) characters in the story. “It is almost like laser tag, but with garments and new weapons,” Beaudette said.
Ted Boscia is director of communications and media for the College of Human Ecology.