Fashion takes center stage April 16 for annual show of student-designed garments

High fashion heads to the Hill Saturday, April 16, when the Cornell Fashion Collective (CFC), formerly the Cornell Design League, presents its 27th annual spring fashion show at Barton Hall, 7-9:30 p.m.

With an expected crowd of 2,500 people, the show, Cornell's largest student-run event, will feature more than 200 original pieces designed and crafted by 65 students, most from the Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design (FSAD) in the College of Human Ecology, but with contributors from agriculture and life sciences, architecture and the Graduate and Hotel schools. On the catwalk will be hundreds of amateur models from across the student body, with dozens more volunteers helping with set construction, lighting, hair and makeup, publicity and ticket sales.

"From original idea to final production, the students do it all," said FSAD senior lecturer Anita Racine. "Designers conceive a theme, sketch their pieces, source fabrics, craft their garments, custom fit the models and present it on the runway with music. On the management side, CFC members organize every last detail. The collaborative effort is remarkable."

CFC President Jaclyn Foster '11 oversees an executive board of eight FSAD students and compares managing the $30,000 event, paid for mainly through ticket revenues, to a full-time job. She started planning last May, booking Barton Hall while abroad for the semester, and puts in hours each day coordinating plans.

"When the lights go down, it will all be worth it," Foster said. "This is our chance to showcase all the wonderful creativity and design and managerial talent that we have at Cornell."

Highlights to watch in this year's show include:

To prepare, student designers toil at all hours to complete their creations. About 20 first-year students will open the show with a single garment; 13 senior designers conclude the event with full ensembles of up to 11 pieces.

CFC rules prohibit designers from showing clothing created for class assignments. "It's challenging, but it inspires us to think about our personal style beyond what's required for class," said CFC publicity director Libby Mattern '11, whose "Committed" line will feature nine pieces inspired by Rorschach inkblot tests.

Morielle Strauss '12, a design and environmental analysis major focused on interior design, is pulling double duty: She devised the 60-foot, T-shaped runway and seating plan, and will model a red gown for FSAD designer Nhu-Thu Nguyen '11. Strauss won the campuswide stage competition with what she calls "a sleek, modern design that will drive the audience's focus to the models and beautiful collections on display."

Nguyen, who has fashioned a line of 10 gowns, along with another for Spectra Elegance, completed most of her patternmaking and sewing during winter break. But she's still in the studio most mornings by 6 a.m., working on the intricate embroidered details for her designs.

"There's so much effort, blood, sweat and tears that go into every line," said Nguyen. "It's not something we have to do, it's something we want to do."

Show tickets are $10 pre-sale and $15 at the door. For tickets and compete show information, visit

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