Last Saturday, the basement of Milstein Hall was a mess of mesh, measurements and models as the Cornell Fashion Collective hosted its first runway show since March 2019.
The show was in part practice for the full CFC Spring show, which will take place on the Arts Quad on April 30 under large clear tents that allow sunlight to shine on the runway. Designers displayed outfits that they had been working on since 2020, while models practiced their walks.
“Saturday was just… a chance to show off all these pieces that I wouldn’t have,” said Maisie McDonald ’23, head designer for CFC. McDonald added that she will showcase a more recent collection in the April 30 spring show.
McDonald is an upcycling designer, meaning that all of her materials are sourced second-hand.
“All of my designs aim to use waste in creative ways and grow awareness to the waste culture that fast fashion creates,” McDonald said. “But also, [they are all] super colorful, unconventional, and play with the standard of fashion being serious.”
CFC Vice President of Design J.H. Yang ’22 said that the designs she chose for Saturday’s show were inspired by unrealistic social media presences that attempt to convey perfect lives. Yang’s work portrays the idea that many people want to be a reflection of who they are on their phones, and it comments on what it means to wear one’s social media presence. To do so, Yang experimented with the concept of mirror images.
“I use this technique where I put paint on one side of the paper, and fold it in half… and it creates a very unexpected pattern and silhouette,” Yang said.
Senior designer Quinn Caroline Guthrie ’22 designed her “Let’s go to School” collection around the theme of high school.
“School is more than just classes, it’s really about the community that you create there,” Guthrie said. “That’s what’s most important about school — not the classes, but the environment.”
Although CFC shows have historically been held in Barton Hall, this year the collective’s venue for the spring show has changed. Due to COVID-19 requirements, the large-scale show is scheduled to be held outside. But moving out of Barton Hall had been on CFC’s radar for some time.
“[Post-COVID CFC] is so different, and much more experimental with stage setup and design,” said Yang.
Instead of a small runway surrounded by bleachers, CFC has focused on finding stages that showcase designs to the entire audience. While previous CFC shows have taken place in Barton Hall, the Spring 2022 shows are in Milstein and outside on the Arts Quad.
“If you’re in the bleachers in Barton hall… you’re just going to be in a dark room looking at an out-of-focus figure for two hours straight,” CFC President Cardinal Robinson ’22 said.
Robinson said that the change was in part driven by a mid-2010s push to make fashion shows reflect their space and physical context. Additionally, the longer runways allow the effort and talent that designers put into their work to be appreciated for more time and by more of the guests.
“When I was applying to become CFC president, that’s basically what I ran on,” Robinson said. “No one wants to go to a fashion show where they’re not actually seeing the clothes.”