April 3, 2003

Campus Couture

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Cornell has never been particularly known for its fashion aesthetic. In fact, to put it somewhat mildly, there is a severe lack of stylishly inclined people on this campus — somehow the varying hues of North Face couture just don’t quite bring out avant garde flamboyance in any of us. Yet the Cornell Design League’s annual fashion show seems to have resulted in an eruption of stylistic cool with every aspiring fashion designer contributing bizarre, beautiful pieces of clothing that run the gamut from insanely nutty hats to simple classic skirts. You’ll probably never be able to wear any of these fashions in Ithaca because none of the students seemed to have designed with an eye towards Artic-ready outerwear. You should probably still attend this exhibit of new talent anyway, by the time you leave Ithaca for warmer climes, they’ll have made it big and you won’t be able to afford any of their clothes. While CDA doesn’t hold its fashion show until next Saturday, here are a few people that you might want to keep an eye out for:

Janet Zheng

Major: Apparel Design

Year: Junior

Home: Edison, New Jersey

Influences & Inspirations: Christian Dior, traditional chinese clothing

Style: Red, white and black dominate Zheng’s clothes which are simple classic pieces ruffled up by sheer material and sexy cuts. Zheng was lucky and talented enough to also have landed the Cornell Concert for Arts’s grant for her line this year.

Think: Dior style meets zen serenity

In a word: Passionate

In her words: “follow your intuitions and do what you love, it’s the only way to be happy in life.”

Robert James Bell IV

Major: Landscape Architecture

Year: Senior

Home: Easton, Maryland

Influences & Inspirations: Nature, urban technology, genetic engineering, John Galliano

Style: Part of an eclectic group of landscape architects who regularly contribute to CDL, Bell’s pieces are beautifully bizarre with a sexy edge-the American Beauty-esqe rose petal ensemble from last year’s show is in a word or two, fucking incredible. Peacock motifs abound in his clothes for the upcoming fashion show, in which Bell tried to make stylistic sense of urban culture and its influence on nature and design.

Think: Philip Treacy meets nature conservationist

In a word: Beguiling

In his words: “My designs combine a sense of glamour and a depth of meaning that audiences seem to enjoy. My things are never too serious, just a delightful diversion.”

Soule Golden

Major: Textiles & Apparel Design

Year: Sophomore

Home: Danbury, Conn.

Influences & Inspirations: Pete Mondrian, The Fauvists, Jean- Paul Gautier

Style: Though cautious about giving away too much about her piece for the upcoming fashion show, Golden did admit that it would be a cocktail piece inspired by political commentary on the war. That said, anyone ballsy enough to turn a cocktail piece into a political commentary deserves recognition of some kind. The kimono featured here is a hand painted homage to the radiant palette of the fauves.

Think: Gucci edge meets Ungaro colour

In a word: Fueled

In her words: “Clothes and fashion are one of the few inlets we have to the history of women. Fashion tells many stories and facilitates self-expression.”

Courtney Levin

Major: Textile

Year: Sophomore

Home: Athens, NY

Influences & Inspirations: Marc Jacobs, Yohji Yamamoto

Style: The whacky tie ensemble featured here is a mocking deconstruction of the quintessential suit. The over exaggerated pearls and man’s cuff bracelet are a piss take on the preppy conservative tastes of ambitious yuppies. Her piece this Saturday will be a Chanel inspired tweed and satin piece.

Think: Ladies who lunch meets Avril Lavigne

In a word: Eclectic

In her words: “Using something with a meaning behind it in your work reinforces the idea that fashion is meaningful and an art form, which people often don’t acknowledge.”

Gregory Sparks

Major: Landscape Architecture

Year: Senior

Home: Honolulu, Hawaii

Influences & Inspirations: Linda Loudermilk, Alexander McQueen, Fortunay.

Style: Sparks is part of the eclectic landscape architects who funnel their creativity and interest in landscape design towards clothes and fashion. He refers to them as a monoculture, where they frequently bond over their common love for knitting. His reverence for the cultural significance of the goldfish as a social barometer led to this sublime white knit with red beading that is featured here.

Think: Hermes luxury meets Descartes.

In a word: Chronic

In his words: “Fashion is worthwhile in a way that even bad art has merit; at least it tries to express something. Or it can be a Vicodin substitute. In that case give it a break.”

Misako Murato

Major: Landscape Architecture

Year: Senior

Home: Scarsdale, NY

Style: Murato is another one of the infamous landscape architects who along with Bob Bell and Anna Johansen are showcasing a joint line at this year’s CDL. The dress featured here was also a collaborative venture done in tandem with Gregory Sparks and Grace Lo and is further testament to the bizarre natural influences that infuse her work. On a side note, Murato spent the last semester in Japan, studying Japanese tea gardens whose incredible attention to detail she attributes as an influence on her own work.

Influences & Inspirations: Japanese tea gardens, nature

Think: Isabella Blow meets class

In a word: Engaging

In her words: “Our idea for the full line this year is ‘Naturalize’ which explores the patterns and forces vital to insects, plants, and birds — this line reveals the tenuous and sometimes parasitic relationships of the natural world.”

Archived article by Tara Kilachand