Fashion, food, music intertwine for runway show

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Students in Apparel Design for Industry (TXCD 416/816), taught by textiles, clothing and design professor Barbara Trout, begin the process of developing their apparel collections for the biennial department fashion show, “The Power of Fashion.”

Story and photos by Mekita Rivas, NewsNetNebraska

Ever seen a Cornhusker in couture?

Now’s your chance.

The Department of Textiles, Clothing and Design will host “The Power of Fashion,” its seventh biennial fashion show this Friday, April 20 at 8 p.m. in the Nebraska Union’s Centennial Ballroom.

“This year, we’re ramping it up even more,” said Michael James, department chair and Ardis James Professor of Textiles, Clothing and Design. “We think that it’s important to raise the quality level of the show so that it’s brought closer to a fully professional experience.”

Michael James, department chair, said that the magnitude of “The Power of Fashion” was influenced by an elaborate runway show he saw in China two years ago.

Kendra Morgan, a junior apparel design major, has worked with James on a UCARE project involving digitally printed designs on various fabrics. TokenX, the software used to create the designs was developed by Brian Pylik Zillig, associate professor and digital initiatives librarian at UNL libraries.

“I’ve wanted to be an apparel designer since my freshman year of high school,” Morgan said. “The best thing about being a designer is seeing your creations coming to life and moving around on people.”

Inspired by wedding dresses she saw at a bridal show in January, Morgan will also debut a black and white gown on the runway. The gown features extensive ruching and a fishtail cut with an exaggerated train.

“The biggest challenge is creating the proper fit for the design,” Morgan said. “Whether that’s done through darts, pleats or seam lines, there are a lot of ways to control the fit.”

Tickets to “The Power of Fashion” can be purchased on the UNL Marketplace leading up to the day of the event. Arriving early is strongly suggested.

Model behavior

What does it take to be a fashion model?

Poise, style, elegance and, yes, even fierceness are all key attributes of turning Jane Doe into a runway queen.

“I design my garments thinking about how the fabrics will move or how it will fall around the body,” said Kaity Rathman, a senior apparel design major. “So it was important to find people who had a confident and strong walk to really emphasize the garment, rather than slumping over or being so nervous that it took away from the garment.”

Student designers and Trout (third from right) determine which individuals have runway potential as the aspiring models prepare to walk in front of the panel.

Apparel design students, under the supervision of James and other faculty members, held two model calls in March, in search of individuals who could – quite literally – walk the walk.

Although a majority of this year’s models are untrained students, James said he sees potential for modeling workshops to be held in conjunction with future shows.

“Eventually, it would be nice if we could get to the point where we spend part of the semester teaching models and having them do real work in the choreography of the runway,” James said. “The mindset that a model has to take is about being totally within herself or himself without appearing the least bit self-conscious.”

The nights leading up to the show, models will participate in multiple rehearsals to get familiarized with stage directions and the sensation of being watched by a large audience.

“They’ll be on the runway a lot,” James said. “It will give us an opportunity to talk them through what we’re expecting.”

An interdepartmental affair

In 2010, James traveled to China with 30 undergraduate students and six faculty members. There, the group experienced a fashion show the likes of which no one had ever seen.

The show featured the premiere of a collection by a young Chinese designer named Simon Wang.

“While we were in Shanghai, we saw a professional runway show at a big international apparel fair,” James said. “When I saw that, that was the look I wanted, the feel I wanted, and I thought, in order to get this, it’s going to take more than what we can do ourselves.”

And so, for this year’s “The Power of Fashion” event, James and the textiles, clothing and design department reached out to other university departments to contribute their expertise and talents to the show.

Jacht Club, the advertising lab housed within the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, was selected by James to spearhead the show’s publicity and social media presence.

“There are so many departments involved in the fashion show, so it’s essential for us to be current with all events going on campus wide,” said Alison Brady, a Jacht club member and senior advertising and public relations major. “To stay up-to-date, we have been in close contact with students and professors in each department. We constantly visit the design studio, the kitchen for hospitality and restaurant management, the music studio and [attend] club meetings.”

In addition to Jacht Club, those involved in the execution of this year’s runway show include the Department of Hospitality, Restaurant & Tourism Management, the School of Music and the Johnny Carson School of Theater and Film.

“My involvement with this year’s runway show is very intense,” said Gina Causin, assistant professor of nutrition and health sciences. “Our program offers event planning ideas, food and wine services and organization during the runway show. During the actual event implementation, we’ll be making sure that food and beverage service is flawless and that the event will flow smoothly.”

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Designer Abby George models a look by fellow designer Lindsay Ducey. Both will feature collections in the runway show. (Photo courtesy of Jacht Club)

Students in Fayrene Hamouz’s HRTM 373: Catering Management class created entire menus for the pre-show cocktail reception and dinner.

“It gives the opportunity for the catering class students to develop menus and recipes and prepare and serve a banquet,” said Hamouz, associate professor of nutrition and health sciences. “That is something that would not usually be done.”

While catering students will be chopping salads and setting tables, those in the School of Music will be doing sound checks and adjusting bass levels.

“Five of my students are composing music for the show,” said Damon Lee, assistant professor of composition and digital arts in the School of Music. “We offer a custom-made original musical score for the evening.”

Lee and his students will produce beat-based music using music sequencers to serve as a soundtrack for the models as they strut and pose across the runway.

“I’m looking forward to seeing it all come together,” Lee said. “With so many different departments working together, it will be exciting to see how it all works out. I’m sure it will be spectacular.”

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