Corrections appended. Updated July 7, 2019.
Mark Colbran ’18 had already stunned the crowd into hushed whispers with his unconventional design — which featured a deer head — at the Cornell Fashion Collective Saturday night. The whispers then grew into shocked gasps as Colbran walked out on stage at the end of his section flailing a banner that read “Fuck Hate But Fuck FSAD Faculty.”
Just a few seconds after Colbran expressed his disdain at the faculty in the department of fiber science and apparel design, CFC president Jessa Chargois ’18 ran out and tried to wriggle the banner out of Colbran’s hands.
After the show ended, Chargrois apologized to the audience for the incident. She later told The Sun that Colbran’s reactions following the incident made her feel “unsafe personally.”
“I felt that he was going to come back around and distract me from running the rest of the show, so I had him escorted out by the police,” Chargois said. In a letter acquired by the Sun in March 2019, Chargois wrote that she did “not believe that Mark physically assaulted [her] on that evening,” nor does she “recall being touched by Mark during the altercation,” though she did not “condone” his behavior that night.
David Wild ’18, who co-founded the brand FSAD Boyz with Colbran, told the Sun in March 2019 that he and Colbran were not escorted out by police, but “both left freely.”
Chargois added that Colbran’s father’s involvement also made her uncomfortable.
“[Colbran’s] father came and spoke with me after and I felt unsafe,” she said. “I had police around me all night.”
Colbran has not returned The Sun’s request for comment.
Several audience members reported being shocked and confused about whether the occurrence was staged.
“I was very confused if it’s part of the show, but obviously it wasn’t,” said Rachel Hong ’20.
Daisy Lee ’20, an usher at the event, said that they were warned by the CFC executive board beforehand to keep an eye on Colbran and any potential incidents.
“[The e-board] said something could happen because [Colbran] always does weird things,” Lee told The Sun. “At first I was also confused about if it was planned … but then I saw [Chargois] backstage, she was really mad and she took [the banner] away from him.”
Prof. Jooyoung Shin, fiber science and apparel design, CFC faculty advisor, said that “it is not rare for fashion designers to turn the runway into a platform” for personal expression, but that Colbran’s action was unacceptable.
“The CFC supports freedom of speech and creative expression of its members, but certainly does not condone speech or any type of expression that is targeted harassment,” Shin told The Sun in an email.
Chargois also said that CFC is supposed to be a place “for people to express their feelings and creative energy,” but that one designer’s opinion cannot represent the opinion of everyone involved.
“Fashion isn’t always black and white and we have to keep that in mind,” she said. “I do not wish to repress free speech, [but] there were children and older generations in the audience, and I am extremely upset to have been put in a position to have to step in.”
According to Chargois, David Wild ’18, who co-founded the brand FSAD Boyz with Colbran, left the venue after inviting audience members to come on stage, which raised a safety concern.
“The stage could have broken and injured hundreds of people, including children that came on stage,” Chargois said. “He chose to leave the building, he was not asked to leave.”
Peter Buonanno ’21 contributed reporting to this article.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Mark Colbran’s design featured an elephant tusk. The description of the item was inaccurate and has been removed from the article.
Update: On July 7, 2019, information from a letter Jessa Chargois ’18 wrote was included, as well as information from David Wild ’18. The article previously quoted Chargois as stating that Mark Colbran “put his hands on me.” However, in the letter subsequently provided to The Sun, Chargois states that she did “not recall being touched” by Colbran. In her letter Chargois also stated that she did not believe she had been “physically assaulted” by Colbran.