The Cornell Fashion Collective boasts its annual fashion show as one of the most attended events at Cornell, and if you weren’t at Barton Hall on Saturday, I’m sorry to say you missed out on possibly the best Cornell fashion show in four years. To quote the famed Tim Gunn of Project Runway, CFC definitely “made it work” this year with a variety of fabrics, materials, prints and colors. “Flowy” was the word of the night, as we saw multiple skirts and gowns flutter in the wake of their models’ roundabout turns. Leather silk, chiffon, muslin, dip-dye, feathers, wire, plastic and even caulk were just some of the materials used to create about 300 visually-stimulating designs. It was a fashiongasm, to say the least.
The show saw a range of high fashion, ready-to-wear and trendy styles. Cut-out and peplum mini-dresses, which are popular with the local college-aged populace, made frequent appearances on the runway. Jeffrey Campbell Lita boots — tall enough to keep you at height with a (fashionable) horse and available in any hue of your dreams — were also a favorite footwear choice for the models. This year’s runway was also host to the trendy asymmetrical skirt design. Warm and cool hues, in varying degrees of neon brightness and saturation, transformed the black runway into a colorful palette. The stage’s truss system, a mixture of wood and semi-translucent triangular panes reminiscent of an Urban Outfitters’ decor, really added another level of professionalism to the student-run event. It was designed and built by some of Cornell’s very own architecture students.
Allowed only one piece each for the show, the first-year designers impressed us all with their debut. The crowd roared in applause over one daring, dark black gown with a wicked mesh train and a matching high, medieval-like collar. The front of the gown was cut to reveal a gratuitous view of leg. In short, it was a sinister, sexy frock befitting of a modern-day evil Disney queen. This piece was courtesy of designer Lily Wolens ’15. A tribute to Swan Lake by Holly Meyers ’14 saw its own White and Black Swan parade down the stage, sweetness in an embroidered white tutu-inspired dress followed by the sinister eyes and sex appeal of her Black Swan sister, who sported a partly translucent black baby doll. Matilda Ceesay ’13 showed us an explosion of colors prints in her Njehringe line, presenting us with vibrant purple and yellow prints and merging traditional African styles with modern silhouettes and cuts.
Expectedly, the seniors stole the show. Their capstone collections flaunted their degree of improvement from first year to fourth year. Favorites included Sara Yin’s ’12 Sinew collection, with a color palette alluding to Stephane Rolland’s Spring 2012 collection: tomato red contrasted with black and stark white. Yin’s collection was delightfully simple in its sleek cuts, yet achieved a high fashion elegance and edginess with its colors. My favorite was a delicate red and white ombré vest.
The Novena collection by Amelia Brown ’12 transported us to an exotic faraway land where inhabitants wear harem pants, luxurious shimmery silk and brilliant golden tassels for earrings. The warm colors, such as orange, red, yellow and sand — along with jewel tones such as teal, — made the onlooker feel as though he or she had entered a mythical palace of the unexplored Orient. It was fabulous and feminine, with a heavy emphasis on luxury.
Wrought iron and steel-inspired leather cut-outs dazzled the audience in the Anvil collection by Emily Parkinson ’12. Incorporated caged patterns and cut-outs alluded to Gothic gates along with shimmery fabrics and dip-dye designs — a color palette indicative of fire and embers and the process of forging metal into art. Feminine yet strong, Parkinson’s senior line merged the hardness of metal and the strength of the structures it used to create soft fabrics for the confident and edgy woman. Her finale piece, a gorgeous black gown with an impressive cut-out bodice, matched the artfulness and foreboding strength of a gothic gate.
Maggie Dimmick’s ’12 Saguaro collection made a sojourn in the desert look charming with antiquated prairie dresses printed and embroidered with pastel-colored cacti. The best part of her collection were her ombré cactus pants: ornate, classy, lovely.
Lastly, Elizabeth Wheeler's ’12 collection, That Night A Forest Grew, temporarily silenced the serious runway backdrop and set the mood for a fairy-tale story evocative of Where the Wild Things Are. Here, the characters wear makeshift crowns and dress like the citizens of Neverland, where growing up isn’t an option. Her collection, recycled from previous garments, included both male and female designs. The males all wore soft-white apparel, and some outfits were bathed in the glow of tiny blue lights, giving them an ethereal, otherworldly look. The female models wore more complex ensembles, riddled with frayed, worn edges and multiple patterns. Furthering this storybook ambiance, Wheeler had her last two models share a kiss on-stage, giving the story its prince and princess happily-ever-after ending. It was delightfully shocking for spectators.
The show has whetted my appetite for what the next batch of senior designers have to dish out. They’ve got some stiff competition. But I was most immersed by the level of professionalism and creative skill that CFC displayed for their 28th Annual Fashion Show. It was truly much more than a student-run event, it was a exhibition of creative Cornellian talent. If you were unlucky enough to have missed it, I suggest you check your local Facebook newsfeed for pictures.