Photo from backstage at The Fashion Event: Avant Garden, Thursday April 4, 2019.
Auburn’s premier fashion showcase featured the best of apparel design, visual merchandising and interior design. The annual event was hosted by the College of Human Sciences’ Department of Consumer and Design Sciences, the Apparel Merchandising and Design Association and co-sponsored by the Mint Julep Boutique.
The theme was Avant Garden – an ambitious idea that pushed the boundaries of design through the use of material and shape to challenge traditionally feminine ideas of florals by incorporating industrial elements. When Auburn apparel students created the Avant Garden, they encouraged guests to open their eyes to the future of fashion.
Consumer and Design Sciences Department Head Pamela Ulrich said she was pleased with the reaction from another successful, student-produced Fashion Event.
"We had a great team of directors, the show was well-organized and our crowd was happy with the students’ work," Ulrich said. "It’s important that for every show, we sit down and talk about how to improve every year and how to capitalize on our successes."
On the Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum floor, e-portfolios and apparel merchandising vignettes displayed work by outstanding Auburn students. Apparel Merchandising students Janneke Cobb, Mecca Hodge, Jessica Spain and Walton Stivender crafted a vignette for the Mint Julep Boutique, Fashion Event co-sponsor and local retailer in the Auburn area.
"This experience has shown me another side of fashion and apparel, something I never even considered doing," Mecca Hodge said. "And this was fun - their clothing selection is very on trend, but it’s not so fashionable in the way that it’d be exclusive. It allowed us to be more unique with our vignette."
For the seventh year, DJ CoCo provided music for the event. Andrew Thorp, as he’s called when he’s not behind music decks, has mixed the music for runway shows in London, Paris, New York and Milan, among other high-profile events.
"It’s important to do this because the students that are graduating from here are the ones that are going to go on to work for the big designers, so I’m going to see them around," Thorp said. "I think it’s cool that they’re doing the show because they really love fashion, and I like being a part of that."
On the runway, the show began with a variety of independent pieces, followed by those carefully crafted in the Avant Garden theme and collections from the capstone course. Capstone is a senior-level design course, where teams work together to develop a line for an existing brand’s untapped market.
The Capstone collections included a Mommy and Me line, wedding wear, a wearable art concept, a collection inspired by philanthropic work and a line featuring lingerie. Anne Landau – a junior in the Apparel Design program whose academic achievement placed her in the senior-level course – worked on the Bella Donna for Ellie Saab lingerie collection.
"Backstage, we were just cheering for each model as she walked down the runway. We were overwhelmed with excitement," Landau said. "As an aspiring designer, this gives me something to look forward to in the future. I know this is a student-run show, but it really gave me a glimpse into Fashion Week."
At the end of the show, a special guest was invited on stage. Due to a partnership with Make-A-Wish Alabama, a little girl whose wish it is to be a fashion designer, walked on the runway in a pink, princess-style ball gown, provided by Gabrielle’s. Auburn’s mascot Aubie the Tiger then surprised her by appearing with a bouquet of flowers to top off the experience.
The Fashion Event is a completely student-run production. From choosing a theme to coordinating the runway show, students in the Fashion Event Planning course are tasked with making the night one to remember. This year, Apparel Merchandising junior Gina Maddaloni and senior Olivia Frazier led the planning team as co-chairs.
"This experience is invaluable. I think that I’m a more eligible and competitive candidate going into the retail field because of this program," Maddaloni said. "All the stress, the loss of sleep, the frustrations and anxieties, they don’t mean anything right now. I feel so rewarded, so proud and grateful, that I had a great team that executed a fantastic show."
And for students who want to lead Auburn’s annual night of fashion excellence, Frazier advises them to embrace big ideas, push for what they believe in and work hard to make the dream a reality.