April 19, 2007

Fashion Frenzy and Surprise

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Fashion Week: these two little words inspire beautiful people to congregate in NYC, LA, Paris, Milan … and this Saturday, in Ithaca. While the Cornell Design League has long-held a single show, this year the group has planned a full-blown fashion week extravaganza.
The week began with a kick-off event at Dino’s this past Saturday night. A walk-off between models on Ho Plaza was scheduled for Tuesday, to be followed by a sale of fashion show tickets, t-shirts and ribbons on Thursday, with the week culminating in the highly anticipated 23rd annual show: The Hemline, the Stitch and the Wardrobe: A Tale, a Myth, a Fable.
Leaders of the CDL such as Philip Kim ’07, Marissa Markowitz ’07, Stephanie Schoen ’07 and Meg Cross ’08 had every detail organized and ready to go. Then Ithaca’s great fashion equalizer, a force more formidable to a Cornell fashionista than Anna Wintour herself, intervened: the weather. Tuesday’s intense snowfall forced the cancellation of the walk-off. Proving that fashion truly is resilient — also recently illustrated by the comeback of such unlikely items as leggings and formal shorts — the show must go on.
Since participation in the fashion show is open to all Cornell students, not only Fiberscience and Apparel Design majors, the show features an incredible degree of diversity in design. According to Markowitz, vice president of the Ithaca event, those organizing the show “let the designers do whatever they want.”
Such a motto serves many of the student-designers well, including Eve Cahill ’07. Cahill, who has a line featured in the show, adores the world of design for its capability to “create things as outlandish as possible.”
Cahill’s sentiments have been embodied by many other Cornell designers in the past. Last year, notable styling choices in the show ranged from bold to dubious. Wigs, body paint and even branches constituted some of the model’s outfits. 2007 is shaping up to be even more outrageous. Markowitz revealed, “There are those people [working on the show] who like to step outside the box.” Cross, VP of fundraising as well as a student-designer, said that her favorite part of the entire event is “seeing what everyone comes up with.”
But putting together a successful fashion show is more work than just throwing together some tree branches and gold hot pants. Many of the senior designers have conceptualized their lines since freshman year. For some, this show will be the first time they see their dreams of completing a full line come to life.
Cahill began developing ideas for her line, a “slightly morbid” and highly emotionally conceptual collection titled “Steady and Grey,” when she studied abroad at the London College of Fashion last year, finalizing her designs at the end of last semester. However, designing the pieces is only the beginning of the challenge. Materials must be chosen, clothing made, make-up, music and shoes chosen … not to mention selecting models.
Cahill said that finding models with a similar look can be one of the most challenging parts of the entire process. Quham Adeniyi ’07 — who has chosen to go by the designer name Quahm A.D. — is another designer with a full line in Saturday’s show who also spoke on the difficulty of finding suitable models. This may be less of a problem for him than other designers, however.
“I’m very lucky. I have very good looking friends,” Adeniyi said. Even with his model burden a bit lessened, Adeniyi will be so busy this weekend that, “I’d be lucky to go home and shower.” With the show’s first rehearsal on Thursday followed immediately by set-up and “shoe rehearsal” on Friday, those involved will remain at Barton Hall getting ready for two full days before the show itself on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Although the designers have spent an inordinate amount of time together already, there is still a secretive element to the show. When asked which designer had the best collection, Adeniyi said, “I am not giving any names!” Markowitz divulges that designers generally “don’t want people talking about [their] stuff [before the show].”
Although the show is not a contest, the environment in the studio appears to be simultaneously supportive and competitive. The bare truth, of course, is that the designers are all fighting for the same cause: fashion. Adeniyi admits, “People tend to discount fashion. But if you think about the three necessities of life, they are: Food. Shelter. Clothing.” He said that every person on campus is influenced in some way by what they wear, and for the most part, this work goes unappreciated.
“No one understands the work and time that goes into making one garment,” he said. “But for one night, you have lots of people working very, very hard, and to see this creative outlet, and to see the fruit of their effort, it’s really worth it.”
The designers are anticipating this year to be the most popular and successful show yet. As Quahm A.D. put it, “I want people to feel bad if they don’t go. I want people to cry the loveliness of people’s designs.”