The Fashion Event: Emergent highlights Auburn apparel students’ work through virtual experience

Charlotte Tuggle | Communications Editor

The annual Fashion Event, led by Auburn University apparel design and merchandising students, embraced the challenges of 2020 and brought forth feelings of hope for 2021 in a transformative presentation of apparel design.

The College of Human Sciences celebrated the tenth anniversary of The Fashion Event with the first-ever virtual experience to display the work of apparel design students.

The Fashion Event: Emergent video, in the tradition of Fashion Week premieres and viewing parties, took the event to a new level of accessibility and shined a brighter spotlight on apparel students’ work. Each collection’s runway appearance was shot on location around Auburn, including the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Moore’s Mill Country Club, the Railyard in Opelika and Samford Lawn, to match the tone and theme of the pieces.

“Being able to adapt and create the visual experience was an amazing alternative because everyone was still able to participate, the whole class helped with filming, and the designers got to show their work,” said Shannon Lucky, Fashion Event co-chair and AMDA vice president. “The design students had the full creative control over how they wanted it filmed, where they wanted it filmed, and the opportunity to show more detail than what you’d usually see at a physical runway show. And sometimes the story behind the garment is in those details, so this was a great, full composition of how the designs came together.”

Lucile Duncan designed “Dorothy,” a chic, separating bridal gown named after her grandmother, who taught her how to sew. It’s also the piece that helped her get in the door of OZ Bridal in Nashville, Tn. Duncan has already accepted a position and will continue her bridal design work there this summer.

“I’ve always thought it was interesting that brides had to get a ceremony dress and a reception dress. Why not just have an additive piece? So that’s why I created the separating ballgown and the hand pearl beading was my way of adding personal details. When she takes off the ballgown, there’s her simple, classic reception dress that she can wear comfortably on the dance floor. It’s two great looks for the price of one,” Duncan said. “I’m so excited to work in bridal wear after graduation and where I’m working is getting into the niche market of separating bridal gowns. And I was able to say I was already working on that in my interview for my position there.”

The annual student-led fashion showcase focused on themes of restoration, growth, and sustainability. Designs encompassed streetwear, chic, formal, wedding and more. In the sustainability category, a collaborative garment, designed and produced by AMDA members as a group, was featured.

Capstone collections included THEM, a gender-neutral line inspired by Levi’s and Gucci crossover; PR/DA, futuristic streetwear focused on individuality; VOYAGE for Savage x Fenty, swimwear and vacation style for all body types; and SOMETHING WHITE by Tiffany & Co., transformative apparel for the modern bride. Mini collections included Floraison Fleur, Acidic Society, Beautiful Tomorrow, and 1943. Apparel design senior Emily Stone took the theme to heart and tailored her Beautiful Tomorrow mini-collection after the youthful joy of Disney. The magical world is a happy place for her family, and considering the challenges her family and so many others continue to face during the COVID-19 pandemic, Stone hoped to inspire childlike wonder in those who saw her collection.

“This year made me realize how important small things are and celebrating little moments,” Stone said. “Disney, for us, is our happy place, so I wanted to make something that made my mom smile and remind her of all the wonderful memories we have and the amazing memories we’re going to make in the future.”

After she graduates in May, Stone will step into a kidswear designer position with Mud Pie in Atlanta, Ga. She said seeing the Disney collection, which she’s been working on since her sophomore year, on the big screen was both a new experience and something she can keep in her portfolio forever.

“Normally, the designer is behind the scenes, so a lot of the time we don’t get to see how much our work is appreciated and with the video, we got to sit back and see everything we made from every angle and a different perspective that honestly made me appreciate my work more and made me prouder of what I did,” Stone said. “This is where I’m supposed to be and that’s what I’m meant to do. I’ve always had a passion for childlike wonder and celebration and the fun things in life, so I love the idea of making everything fun and happy and lighthearted when everything else sometimes seems dark.”

All designs are featured in The Fashion Event Look Book, which was available online for public viewing during the premiere and available for order at The Fashion Event website. The look book is a new feature in Fashion Event history, a magazine-style guide to this year’s designers, their designs, and deeper meanings of the emergent theme.

From the darkness of 2020, The Fashion Event sought to shed light on a hopeful future through apparel design. Associate professor and Fashion Event planning advisor Karla Teel said the students in the yearlong Fashion Event planning course contended with many challenges and persevered to create something special.

“This has been a great learning process for all of us. None of our students or myself had ever executed a video production before, so we researched different virtual shows and brought together the best of what we saw,” Teel said. “The pandemic has changed the way we are going to do business in the future, so learning how to cultivate a virtual fashion show experience has taught our students a new set of skills that they will be able to take into the workforce.”

Though the runway experience was virtual, students, their families, and guests from the community had the opportunity to attend the in-person premiere at The Plaza at Midtown in Auburn.

For ten years, The Fashion Event has been the landmark event that signals the end of many students’ time at Auburn and the start of their professional careers. AMDA president and Fashion Event co-chair Elizabeth Bundrick will graduate in May with a degree in apparel merchandising and continue her work with Lilly Pulitzer this summer. She said the virtual runway show will serve all apparel students well in their employment search, and the in-person premiere was personally important to celebrate.

“For our portfolios going forward, this is a great resource for us,” Bundrick said. “For me, this has really helped with jobs. I’ll be able to showcase this as a thing that I’ve done and it will help launch me into more event planning, which is something ideally, I would like to do. My mom is an event planner, so it definitely feels good for her to be here and watch me succeed at something she is doing every single day.”

The Fashion Event: Emergent video experience will be available for viewing at For more information on the Apparel Design program in the College of Human Sciences, visit visit here .