The Fashion Event 2019: Avant Garden, Auburn University’s Premier Fashion Showcase, Coming This April

Charlotte Tuggle | Communications Editor

Photos from the runway and backstage at The Fashion Event: Mod at the Auburn Arena Friday, April 20, 2018.

Those who want to see unconventional feats of fashion and fresh apparel design are invited to experience Avant Garden, Auburn University’s annual fashion showcase featuring creations by the next generation of fashion designers and merchandisers. The annual Fashion Event, cosponsored by the College of Human Sciences Department of Consumer and Design Sciences, the Auburn Apparel Merchandising and Design Association and Mint Julep Boutique, is one of the top college-level productions in the nation.

Tickets are available now for the highly-anticipated, student-run event which will be held April 4 at the Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the runway show begins at 8 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to come early to experience an array of student work including visual merchandising vignettes, e-portfolio exhibits and interior design displays.

This year’s theme, Avant Garden, encourages attendees to imagine the unexpected. Apparel Design and Production Management senior Mariah Gullatte is the styling chair for The Fashion Event’s planning and is part of a group of student designers that will be showing a wedding wear collection. She said the inspiration for this year’s theme is merging a rigid, industrial feel with the femininity of florals.

“We want to take hard, industrial elements, design factors and materials like steel and wood, and merge those with the feminine, elegant side of women’s wear in a playful, whimsical garden environment,” Gullatte said. “I love that it merges feminine with edgy – not being afraid to take risks with the materials that you use.”

In order to plan the event, selected students participate in a voluntary, three-credit hour course that spans two semesters and requires countless hours of out-of-classroom work. Students interested in participating in The Fashion Event Planning class have to complete a selective application process where they describe skills and abilities that would make them a valuable addition to the planning team. The students are then divided into working groups tasked with decorating, creative design, public relations, modeling, styling and media for the event.

Charlee Vawter, a junior in Apparel Design and Production Management, is a modeling chair for The Fashion Event and will also have designs featured during this year’s runway show portion of the evening. Her focus is on texture and volume, incorporating a draping technique to create organic shapes with an array of soft color and materials including silk, tulle, organza and satin.

Vawter said The Fashion Event is an invaluable experience for aspiring apparel designers and merchandisers, having the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of a design show before they even graduate.

“At a lot of schools, they can’t say that of their graduates. Especially since the event is student-run, I think it shows great leadership and character of the students who are planning and directing it because they’re willing to put in the time,” Vawter said. “That shows a lot of commitment to the industry.” This year may be the most ambitious show yet. Apparel Design and Production Management senior Anne Grey Cook, who is also the creative chair for the event, said this year’s theme was a long time coming.

“A garden theme is something that has been brought up several years in the past and it just kept getting put on the backburner,” Cook said. “No one wanted to take on what could’ve been a hefty cost, but everyone loved the idea so it kept being considered for the next year’s theme.”

The class is incorporating creative decorating techniques, including colors reminiscent to a garden and using more fluid lines in the design. The juxtaposition of that feminine aesthetic, with a masculine touch through industrial themes, Cook said, was the making of Avant Garden.

“We took that theme and expanded on it to make it more doable, so that it’s not so expensive and so that it’s fresh and thought-provoking for those who see it.”

For more information and to buy tickets to The Fashion Event on April 4, visit