For the first time in its history, the Cornell Fashion Collective spring show will be held outdoors on the Arts Quad. The CFC’s first in-person show since 2019 will be held April 30, beginning at 2 p.m. Tents will be set up to guarantee a rain-or-shine event.

Project (outdoor) runway: Spring fashion show returns

There will be plenty of “firsts” in this year’s Cornell Fashion Collective spring Runway Show.

The 38th annual event, on April 30, beginning at 2 p.m., will be the CFC’s first in-person spring show since 2019. The event also will be the first time the public will get to see the collections from the approximately 60 student designers in CFC’s levels 1 through 4.

And perhaps the most significant “first” – this year’s event will be held outside, on the Arts Quad, under three large tents to guarantee a rain-or-shine event. Past in-person spring shows were held in Barton Hall.

Cardinal Robinson ’24, creative director for the Cornell Fashion Collective’s Spring 2022 Runway Show, dresses one of his models before the Twilight Exhibition show, held March 26 in the basement of Milstein Hall.

“I was really looking forward to it (in 2020) and then the same week that we were going to have the show, it got canceled,” said Cardinal Robinson ’24, CFC creative director and a fiber science and apparel design major in the College of Human Ecology (CHE). “Then we came back last year, and no show. So this is pretty amazing, because we are really able to have a show where people are finally able to showcase their looks.

“It’s really exhilarating,” he said, “and a bit surreal, to be honest.”

The runway will be set up on the diagonal walkway that extends from Goldwin Smith Hall northwest toward the Herbert F. Johnson Museum. Two of the tents will be opaque and one will have a clear roof, to let in natural light.

Tickets for the event are $10 general admission, $15 for Friends and Family seating and $35 for VIP seating.

Designers in levels 1 and 2 have assigned themes that they must use as inspiration for their pieces. The Level 1 theme is “Unconventional”; Level 2 is “Monochrome,” with the color theme being blue. The more advanced designers can choose their own themes.

In 2020, the pandemic scrapped the event at the last minute. Last year it was held virtually, with a collection of short films showcasing each designer’s line. There was one film produced for all designers in Level 1, and one for those in Level 2; designers in levels 3 and 4 each produced their own short films highlighting their work.

A model wearing one of Cardinal Robinson’s designs descends the stairs at the CFC Twilight Exhibition event, held March 26 in the basement of Milstein Hall.

“Our board had a really creative solution,” said Sarina Matson ’22, the CFC’s director of management, who’s also studying fiber science and apparel design in the new Department of Human Centered Design, in CHE. “It was actually really cool creatively, because each designer was really able to have creative control on how they want to portray their designs.”

Matson said CFC will take some of the lessons learned from the virtual event into this year’s in-person show.

“I think what we really want to preserve is that extra creativity,” she said, “and I think that’s why Cardinal (Robinson) really wanted it to be outside. It’s different from our traditional Barton Hall show, which I feel didn’t really allow a lot of room for creativity on the designers’ part.”

Ruby Jones ’22, a Level 4 designer majoring in fashion design, said she was lucky enough to experience an in-person show during her freshman year, and is anxious to see the designs back on the runway.

“I’m definitely very excited to get back to the in-person shows, because I think those are a lot more fun and celebratory. It kind of feels like you’ve really done something,” said Jones, whose collection is inspired by the American West, with lots of leather, suede and rich colors.

“And I have some family coming, which I’m looking forward to,” she said. “And this collection is my main application piece, in terms of applying to jobs after college, so I’m hoping everything comes together.”

Maisie McDonald ’23, a Level 3 designer, works on one of her looks, made entirely with secondhand sweaters, deconstructed and stitched together to create unique fashion pieces.

Maisie McDonald ’23, a Level 3 designer, is all about sustainability in her designs. How much does she value the three R’s – reduce, reuse, recycle – in her work?

“All of my designs either reuse post-industrial or post-consumer fabrics or pieces,” she said. “And I’m just really inspired by the materials themselves. I feel like I can’t sketch something without a specific discarded material in mind.”

Her line will feature secondhand sweaters deconstructed and stitched together in creations that are as much art as clothing – or, as the repurposing of discarded materials into jewelry, art and fashion has been dubbed, “trashion.”

“I’m working with a lot of stuffed pieces,” McDonald said, “so my collection is aimed to be super-playful – kind of commenting on body standards and just having fun with clothing and making it into an art piece.”

The tents will go up on the Arts Quad a couple of days in advance of the show, Matson said. Dress rehearsals are planned for April 23 and 28 in the run-up to the event, which is open to the public.

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Gillian Smith