This year’s annual fashion show, Fashion ‘15 will take place June 6 at the Urban Outfitters Headquarters at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Twenty-nine Drexel University fashion design students will be presenting their senior collections down the runway, including womenswear, menswear, knitwear and childrenswear. With garments that have been worked on since September, these seniors view the fashion show as their graduation. The fashion show is also produced by a group of design and merchandising students, all partaking in a fashion show production class.
The production team began in the winter quarter and is led by student director Claire Rabinowitz, a senior majoring in design and merchandising. As the team director, Rabinowitz works closely with Catherine Byers, the program director for design and merchandising. Rabinowitz is also in charge of making sure every department within the team meets their scheduled deadlines and recruits volunteers to work at the show.
In order to spread the word, the public relations and marketing team must step in. Jaclyn Fleurant, a senior majoring in design and merchandising, and Courtney Carey, a junior double majoring in design and merchandising and psychology, are the public relation coordinators for the show. Their job was to create awareness and to promote the show using various techniques such as social media and a guerilla marketing strategy where they planned a pop up fashion show at the academic quad.
Fleurant said that when you are working behind the scenes, “You really appreciate it a lot more, how much preparation goes into the production and it’s pretty amazing that we get to work with Urban [Outfitters].”
Ana Prodanovich, a senior majoring in design and merchandising is this year’s model coordinator. Prodanovich is in charge of speaking with modeling agencies in the Philadelphia area in order to find out what models can be booked. The team saw over 80 models during casting and chose 20 to be sent down the runway.
Taylor Blair, a senior majoring in design and merchandising is this year’s co-ticket sales coordinator. In this vital position, Blair is “responsible for all online sales and in-person sales for tickets as well as organizing sales behind T-shirts.” Although it can be difficult to find people who are available to sell tickets during a specific time slot, Blair makes it happen.
One major challenge the production team has been facing is ticket sales. Rabinowitz expressed how, “the Westphal College definitely knows about [the show] but the rest of the campus doesn’t really know about it.” The public relations team’s solution to this challenge is through the use of social media. “We’ve been trying to think outside of the box, but there are so many restrictions. You can only do much,” Fleurant said.
This entire production is a learning experience for every member of the team. Blair believed this experience encouraged her to be “really on top of [her] email, [her] organization and to be detail oriented.” Carey agreed that “details are everything and creativity is so important.”
One of the 29 students who will be presenting their final collections this year is Calla Michaelides, a senior majoring in fashion design. Her collection focuses on women’s trans-seasonal sportswear, with pieces that you can mix and match. Michaelides described her senior collection as her full time job, and said, “I would not hesitate to say I have worked on it for 40 hours a week. It is safe to say that I really [did] eat, breathe and sleep senior collection.” On the process of creating her collection, Michaelides “wanted to bring excitement and substance … by experimenting with color, texture, full silhouettes and layering. I wanted to create clothing that has artistic qualities, but still be attainable and wearable.”
Michaelides also printed and painted her own textiles for her collection by layering scans and photographs in Photoshop. She explained how “within each print, there is some element of human form or intricate Eastern architecture to give my prints a subtle subject matter.” Michaelides will be presenting her final eight prints in her senior collection.
Margaret Heil, a senior majoring in fashion design will also be presenting her collection at this year’s fashion show. Heil’s collection focuses on childrenswear for girls between the ages of five to 10-years-old. Heil described her collection as “whimsical, fun and playful,” and said it is inspired by paintings of artist Claire Desjardins that are “loose, geometric and graphically strong.” Heil also manipulated 95 percent of her fabrics through dying, block printing, quilting, appliques, embroidery, laser cutting and knitting. Heil is also the only childrenswear designer this year.
Taylor Dunn, a senior majoring in fashion design will be presenting her surf-culture-inspired womenswear collection this year. Dunn’s pieces can be worn for surfing, swimming, biking, hiking and running and were constructed “the way a wetsuit is, meaning it is made of neoprene, glued rather than sewn together and topstitched with a zigzag switch.” In addition, Dunn also created her own surf booties from her fabrics. In terms of the color palette in Dunn’s collection, she said, “The inspiration came from the brushstroke sailboat painting by an unknown artist that I found via Pinterest. The color combinations are what really caught my eye, leading to the color palette used for my collection.” Dunn has spent over 50 hours each week working on her senior collection.
Brianna Snowden, a senior majoring in fashion design with a marketing and retail minor will be presenting her knitwear collection this year. Snowden’s inspiration came from images of “crumbling plaster and exposed brick revealing rich shades of bone and rust.” Her process of creating her collection included “just playing with different techniques of knitting, and seeing how different shapes of knitted fabric pieces relate together.” Snowden then “combined machine knit elements with smooth sheer fabrics to imitate the jagged edges of plaster and the grid-like patterns found within bricks.” Snowden has spent around 50-60 hours a week on this collection, and is excited to present her pieces on the runway.
Maura Feingold, a senior majoring in fashion design with a minor in fine art will be presenting her sportswear collection this year. Her love for painting, screen-printing and creating textiles inspired her designs. Feingold’s collection consists of primarily bulky knitted oversized pieces, denim and basic knit jersey fabrics. She explains her designing process as “using various printmaking techniques including silkscreen, foiling, stenciling and spray painting on each individual piece of clothing.” Foiling in particular was one of Feingold’s initial experiments when she first started exploring ideas for her concept. The process includes “applying metal onto surfaces with glue,” and Feingold believes this technique truly “enhanced my inspiration, allowing my designs to look rusted, aged and decayed while keeping the comfort and integrity of the fabric.” In total, Feingold has spent over 80 hours a week on creating her collection. Feingold said, “It’s a commitment and I’m doing whatever I can to make sure my vision is conveyed.”
Lisa Hayes and Renee Chase are the fashion design professors who teach and guide the seniors every year with their final collections. Both Hayes and Chase meet with the students twice a week for three hours, and offer one class that is devoted to answering their technical, conceptual and sourcing questions. The other class is devoted to fittings, where a live model comes to the classroom every week for the students to learn how to make adjustments three dimensionally.
Prior to her career at Drexel in 1981, Chase worked as a sportswear designer for 10 years and worked in the fashion journalism industry. As a professor who works with the seniors from September until the night of the show, Chase helps the seniors to create a focus and a concept for their collections through evaluating their strengths and weaknesses, finding inspiration by looking at images, trying to figure what colors or fabrics to use, who they’re designing for and what they ultimately want to do. From a professor’s point of view throughout this whole process, Chase said, “Psychologically, it takes a lot to help them commit to something that they’re going to work on for a whole year.” Chase also said, “It’s our job as faculty to really help skip over potential problems and lead them into a direction that will yield success.”
Hayes has been a professor at Drexel for 10 years, and has worked in the fashion industry for 20 years as a designer. Hayes is thrilled with this year’s diverse group of designers. “We have some really beautiful knit, childrenswear, lingerie inspired, sportswear, womenswear and menswear collections,” she said.
Both Chase and Hayes are excited for their students to present their final collections at this year’s fashion show. “We are working with different personalities and different skill sets that we have to bring the best out of. It’s a wonderful challenge and the reward is wonderful,” Chase said.
Tickets for the show can be purchased both in-person at the URBN center and online through www.facebook.com/DrexelFashionShow.