Courtesy of Robyn Reynolds

A gown by Robyn Reynolds that was recently displayed in the Barbara L. Kuhlman Student Scholars' Fiber and Wearable Arts Exhibition

March 9, 2016

Senior Designer Profile: From Pre-Med in Atlanta to Eveningwear in Ithaca, a Chat with Robin Reynolds ’16

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Robin Reynolds ’16 believes in the personal, the intimate, the individual — and their capacity to triumph over conformity and conventionality through design. Compelled to pursue a career in clothing design as a result of her experiences as a pre-professional dancer, creating and altering clothing for herself and other dancers, Reynolds seeks to articulate wearers’ multidimensional identities and depth, through her luxurious detail, defining surface elements, textile layering and deliberate construction. Her senior collection will feature eveningwear and lingerie inspired by the shapes and subtleties of glass in its various forms. The Sun had the opportunity to speak with Reynolds about her design aesthetic, senior collection, and the journey of her transfer to the Cornell Fiber Science and Apparel Design from a pre-medical track.

The Sun: When did you first start designing? How did you end up at Cornell for design?

 Robin Reynolds: It really depends on how you define the term.  I believe we as people are always designing whether we realize it or not.  As people in a world that has certain expectations for how we should act, think, and feel, it seems only natural that that part of ourselves [which] deviates from society’s expectations, must spill out in some shape or form.  We have to mold our surroundings into a form that we can be at peace with and interact with. So it follows that from the moment I was born, I was designing, and redesigning, and rethinking how every little part of our world could be more functional and beautiful.

I would say that my journey as a designer shifted towards a focus in clothing design when there was a functional need for me to do so.  Firstly, the clothing available to me in my youth has always been problematic: too short, too wide. Alterations were a necessity. As a pre-professional dancer, I became even more involved in clothing construction, altering and designing clothing for myself and for other dancers.  Realizing that clothing design and construction was a real source of joy for me, I transferred to Cornell’s program after a year and a half at Emory University where I had previously been involved in pre-medical and pre-business studies. It was my hope that Cornell would offer me ample opportunity to pursue my passion for design alongside traditional academic studies.

Sun: How would you describe your design style? What inspirations can we see in your designs? What type of person do you imagine that you’re designing for?

R.R.: My design aesthetic is luxurious, exact, refined but not simplified. The quality of my designs lies in the feminine details. My garments feature deliberate construction to achieve the ideal fit and perceived shaping of the female body. This translates into multiple curved seam-lines or defining surface design. My garments are unique in their magnetic eye catching details, subtle deviations from the norm that create intrigue.

In a society that demands conformity, individuality is lost. As people begin to blend in, their depth, dimension, and uniquely detailed personality fades behind cookie cutter clothing. Standing out from the norm, my eveningwear collection will establish the identity of my work as luxurious and full of depth and detail, just like the woman who wears it. Beauty lies in the depth and dimension of a person. As such, my designs for this show feature layered textiles and unique surface details. All of these details are inspired by glass in its various forms with references to is warm and liquid state as well as its more rigid shape that shatters. To emphasize the element of luxury that defines my work, metallic elements, hint at the value of the piece and the woman that wears it.

Sun: What experiences in your life have most impacted your design vision and inspirations?

R.R.: I don’t think I can really point to a singular inspiration.  I believe the key to really strong and memorable design is just making it personal.  Whatever it is that is haunting your heart and mind in the moment, that is what you need to be designing; that’s the piece of yourself the world needs to hear about.  It’s that personal element that will give your work the heart and soul to make it memorable.

Sun: Could you give us a little preview of what we can expect at the show? What type of collection are you showing? What are the inspirations behind it or the philosophies guiding it?

R.R.: I will be showing a collection of eveningwear for women which will include both eveningwear and lingerie elements inspired by glass in its various forms.  Ultimately, the collection should encourage the viewer to recognize the depth and dimension of the individual via the depth of detail and dimension in the clothing.

Sun: How did you conceptualize the collection and what was that process like?

R.R.: Making design decisions is always a lengthy ongoing process.  I certainly began thinking about my senior collection as soon as I came to Cornell.  However, I didn’t immerse myself in the details of trend forecasting and pattern drafting until September.

Sun: What was the most challenging part of creating your final collection?

R.R.: Unfortunately, I have a severe shoulder injury at the moment so pushing through that kind of pain and altering my patterns to make the construction possible with one arm has been a very unexpected and problematic obstacle.

Sun: What are your goals for designing? What would you like to do after graduation?

R.R.: I want to always keep learning, whether that be at a dream job or further schooling.

Tickets for the Cornell fashion Collective’s Annual Runway Show are still available online or from Collective members. The show will be held Saturday, March 12 in Bailey Hall.

Jael Goldfine is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]