April 10, 2003

Campus Couture

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Appropriately themed “Inferno,” the Minority Industrial Labor Relations Students Organization’s (MILRSO) annually held fashion show will take Barton hall by storm with the creative spirit blazing from a talented pool of young minority designers. The designs will fall under a wide spectrum of styles, ranging from the glamorous ostenations of glitzy street-wear to edgy artistic ingenuity reminiscent of runway couture.

Minority fashions have been something of a style sensation these days. Case in point is the phenomenal success of hip-hop mogul Sean “P. Diddy” Combs’ Sean John line, whose ghetto fabulous clothing has earned rave reviews and generated $450 million dollars in revenue last year. The success of J.Lo’s perfume “Glow” and FUBU proves that minority fashions are breaking into the mainstream and that the minority consumer is a key market to target and capitalize on. At first glance, an Ivy League institution such as Cornell does not seem like a breeding ground for the next wave of minority designers. However, here’s a feature on four Cornellians who have a passion for design and just might be the next Kimora Lee Simmons to break into the industry. They, along with professional designers Jewel Shannon and PELA, will share their clothes celebrating the vision and bodies of today’s minorities.

Esosa Edosomwan

Major: Textiles and Apparel Design

College: Human Ecology

Year: 2005

Doted On Designer: Alvin Galley

The tone of Edosomwan’s collection is one of stylistic innovation, in which her highly individual interpretation of glamour and sophistication shines through. There is a playful gender-bending inspiration that is apparent in a couple of her pieces, deconstructing such notions that certain articles of clothing should be limited to only one sex. A typically feminine dress should not be dissociated from a masculine tie — the forward-thinking, modern woman wearing Edosomwan’s line is not afraid to take the daring risk of a cross-dressing plunge.

Another characteristic trend recurring in Edosomwan’s collection is her experimentation with various textures and colors. An asymmetric halter top might have an eye-catching accouterment of sequins, a male outfit might be paired with an interesting textured belt, and a dress might have a spunky dose of polka dots to brighten up your day. Being of Nigerian descent, Edosomwan also mentioned that a Nigerian-American fashion fusion can be sensed in her designs as well. Several of her designs will be made of Nigerian fabrics, which are dyed using traditional techniques such as shibori to produce a distinctive color pattern. The end result is a memorable cross-cultural couture blend.

Courtney Lee

Major: Textiles and Apparel Design

College: Human Ecology

Year: 2003

Doted On Designer: Carolina Herrerra

Sassy and urbane street wear is the overall theme of Lee’s collection. “Sexy and urban,” is how Lee herself terms it, a style perfected and gaining mainstream popularity by the current minority fashion industry. “My style is really feminine and sophisticated,” Lee said. “My muse is someone who is strong, with complete confidence in who they are.” So imagine someone self-assured like music superstar Lauryn Hill wearing one of Lee’s pieces with much poise, class, and sass.

There is definitely a hip street wear vibe to Lee’s designs, but with a hint of couture influence. Much of the fabrics that she uses are silk, and she experiments with intricate tying arrangements that evoke the techniques of high-end designer Tom Ford for the house of Yves nt ct Laurent. Expect to see plunging necklines that suggestively reveal major decollatage through the teasing peep-holes of the laces. Indeed, an open-mindedness about risque sensuality acquired from her days abroad in liberal Florence, Italy, can definitely be perceived in her line, as noted by the presence of sheer, see-through tops and bottoms. Yet Lee wants her clothes to be able to worn off the runway and casually out in public. To tone down the powerful sexuality of her designs, Lee dresses them up with an adorable stash of buttons, giving the spicy clothes an ultimately homey feel.

Thea Stewart

Major: Human Development

College: Human Ecology

Year: 2004

Doted On Designer: Miuccia Prada

Stewart’s line takes the capacities of denim and pushes them beyond the boundaries of simply jeans. “I wanted to take the casualness out of denim,” Stewart said, and the resolve to pattern denim into something more than its laid-back purposes shows in the designs. Denim is cut and patterned into cute pleated skirts and suggestively cropped over-all tops, proving that this sturdy fabric can do more than just provide stiff support — it can be stylish as well.

Stewart also plays with the concept of fastenings, foregoing traditional buttons, zippers, and hooks in favor of using snap-on belt buckles to hold her pieces together. This seems to reinforce the concept of denim being an all-purpose, dependable textile. However, Stewart mentioned that, “My main inspiration for these pieces would be any type of runway designer.” With runway being her muse, Stewart set out to design clothes with more of an aesthetic rather than a practical purpose, a slight contradiction to the theme of denim. The final outcome is an array of striking pieces confined to the canvas of the catwalk rather than the ordinary outside.

Aja Falker

Major: Textiles and Apparel Management

College: Human Ecology

Year: 2005

Doted On Designer: Vera Wang

Falker’s clothes exude a classic sophistication, a style evocative of chic stars such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Audrey Hepburn. A conservatism is apparent in her line, as suggested by her decision to try something different yet stay classy, adding that, “There’s not much scandal to them.” Hues will be subtle rather than flashy, and texture will be low-key rather than conspicuous.

Falker aspires to manage fashion labels in the future, and knowing what work goes into the whole design process prompted her to participate in student shows. There will be two pieces of hers featured in Friday’s show. Falker said that she admires the elegance of Vera Wang, and one can make a connection between the high-end designer’s classic chicness and the elegant nature of Falker’s own pieces. For the show, she designed a shoulder wrap dress as well as a pants suit with ties along the siding, all made from a poly-rayon blend fabric.

Archived article by Sherry Jun