Spring runway fashion show celebrates 40th on March 2

Evening wear that says “indulgence.”

Pieces inspired by the value of friendships.

Garments that offer commentary on disability and deformity.

Tailored solutions for sports teams that practice in cold environments.

These are just a few of the fashion statements undergraduate designers in the Cornell Fashion Collective will make in the group’s 40th Spring Runway Show, to be held March 2 at 7 p.m. in Barton Hall. Doors will open at 6; tickets are $10 general admission and $25 for Friends and Family; VIP seating is already sold out.

After pandemic disruption that scrapped the 2020 show, made the ’21 show online only and had the ’22 make history as the only CFC runway show to be held outdoors, this marks the second straight show back in its traditional Barton Hall environs. Organizers are hoping to reestablish some stability in the event, a benchmark for dozens of designers in levels 1-4, many of whom have fashion career aspirations.

Anna Paaske ’24, president of the Cornell Fashion Collective executive board, holds a CFC Creatives Team meeting in the Martha Van Rensselaer auditorium. The 40th CFC Spring Runway will be held March 2 at 7 p.m. in Barton Hall. 

“We’re kind of going back to the roots of CFC,” said Anna Paaske ’24, a fashion design management major and president of the collective. “This is our 40th annual show, so it’s kind of a big milestone for us.”

The group was founded in 1984 as the Cornell Design League by Onslo Harrington ’88 and Laura Russel ’88, and was renamed the Cornell Fashion Collective in 2011. CFC faculty adviser Kim Phoenix ’12, M.A. ’18, a senior lecturer in the Department of Human Centered Design, in the College of Human Ecology (CHE), has a long history with the club, starting more than 25 years ago with her work in the costume shop of the theater department in the College of Arts and Sciences.

She first became involved with the club as an undergraduate in 2010, and has been adviser since 2019, taking over for her mentor, CHE senior lecturer Anita Racine, Ph.D. ’96.

“I love its inclusiveness, the fact that you do not have to be a fashion major to be a part of this program,” Phoenix said. “CFC is near and dear to my heart, and carrying on Anita Racine’s legacy of perfection and attention to detail is something I really take to heart.”

The 40th annual show will include several nods to the past.

Paaske said this year’s set-up in Barton will be more intimate than it was last year, when the runway stretched approximately three-quarters of the length of the indoor track. For 2024, a raised stage will complement the runway, which will be shorter.

“We’re trying for a more enhanced show experience,” said Mattie Nguyen ’25, a fashion design management major and CFC creative director. “I think everybody’s excited to see it come back to where it started.”

Angela Lan ’24 works on her line for the Cornell Fashion Collective Spring Runway Show in the Human Ecology building design studios. Lan is also director of design for levels 3 and 4.

For Angela Lan ’24, CFC’s design director for levels 3 and 4 and one of approximately 50 designers who’ll present their apparel lines, the excitement also comes from taking a big step toward a career in fashion.

“Presenting a senior collection will be a defining moment for me,” said Lan, a fashion design major whose line of artisanal evening wear is titled “Éblouissant” (dazzling), embodying the philosophy of indulgence. “It’s a culmination of my experiences at Cornell and represents the unique perspective I’ve developed as a designer.”

Ashlynn Lee ’24, a fashion design major, said her collection is a tip of the hat to her friends in CFC and beyond.

I am surrounded by brilliant, caring people that make life an incredible experience,” Lee said. “My pieces are inspired by the relationship between clothing and a comfortable attitude of confidence. I wanted to make garments that let the wearer feel the way that time with my friends makes me feel.”

Lee said she values the professionalism that the creative process has fostered. “The show is a fabulous method for accountability,” she said, “to ensure that we finish work for our portfolios in a timely manner.”

Mia Bachrack ’24 fits a model with one of her designs in preparation for the CFC runway show, March 2 in Barton Hall.

For fashion design major Mia Bachrack ’25, her collection, “Bound to Absolute Malformation,” leans into her disability.

“My collection is a commentary on deformity, questioning whether the medical garments that push us back into commonality are not devices we can adopt for beauty or fashion,” she said. “It is a reflection on my life living with a chronic condition, and how I can use my disability and all of its devices as an inspiration.”

Beckett Fine ’24, a fashion design major and CFC’s director of merchandise, was inspired by Cornell student-athletes who prepare for their sports in winter weather. He focused on rowing, football, soccer and lacrosse.

“After enduring three brutal winters at Cornell,” Fine said, “I began to wonder how athletes managed the freezing temperatures during their seasons. Through numerous interviews, I discovered that many teams lacked appropriate gear for such harsh conditions. This realization inspired me to reinvent their uniforms, prioritizing thermal comfort and uniqueness.”

Paaske said the designers will take center stage on March 2, but the show couldn’t go on without the nearly 100 club members whose work behind the scenes “makes the show happen,” she said. From setting up and breaking down Barton to securing sponsors and raising money, it’s a huge undertaking.

“Logistically, there’s a lot that happens behind the scenes, and on the day of the show nobody really recognizes that,” Phoenix said. “There are so many unsung heroes who make a beautiful platform for their fellow students to showcase their work.”

As always, designers in levels 1 and 2 must design their apparel to fit a prescribed theme. For level 1, this year’s theme is “Exposure,” which could mean either related to photography and lighting, or to concealing and revealing the body, one’s identity and so on.

For level 2, it’s “Obscura,” from camera obscura, an old photographic technique in which an image is projected onto a wall of a darkened room through a small hole at the opposite end of the room. Designers are encouraged to draw inspiration from the role of framing and format in distorting and transforming their images and ideas.

Some of the designers will take their collections to the second annual Fashion and Design Expo ’24, hosted by the Department of Human Centered Design in the College of Human Ecology. This year’s event will be held April 11 at Home Studios, 873 Broadway in New York City.

Media Contact

Lindsey Knewstub