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Fashion on Film

Fashion on Film

Apparel Design seniors present their thesis collections via (Un)finished, an intensely personal cinematic compilation.

A crowd watches as the film is projected in Market Square

A crowd gathers at dusk to watch films created by Apparel Design seniors.

On a Friday evening in late May, Apparel Design students, faculty and friends gathered in Market Square at dusk to watch (Un)finished, the class of 2022 senior show. The 22-minute film compilation, which was projected on the exterior wall of the RISD Auditorium, allowed each student to present their thesis designs in a unique and creative way. This year’s seniors challenge conventional fashion by focusing on self-exploration and sustainability.

“Each student’s identity, focus and narrative can really be celebrated in a more holistic way than is possible in a collective fashion show.”

Lisa Z. Morgan

“With a film, you have an entirely different immersive experience with each student’s work,” says Department Head Lisa Z. Morgan. “Some of the students have actually filmed the inside of their garments, which reveals attention to detail and how the wearer might experience the garment. Each student’s identity, focus and narrative can really be celebrated in a more holistic way than is possible in a collective fashion show.”

Two models pose in a field
In the garments she designs, Emilia Mann BRDD 22 AP uses biomaterials grown by mycelium in mushrooms. Photo by Tiffany Cheung 23 PH

Although many of the students had hoped for a physical runway show, they agree that film can offer viewers a deeper sense of intimacy with the work. “My work in particular requires a certain level of explanation that cannot be conveyed in a traditional runway show,” says Emilia Mann BRDD 22 AP, who used mycelium from mushrooms to grow biomaterials for the garments she made. 

Model wearing knitted garment
Jessy Chun 22 AP, whose work is shown above, finds knitting to be therapeutic. Photo by Tiffany Cheung 23 PH

Jessy Chun 22 AP was inspired to create her film after contracting COVID and needing to isolate. “I found creating and directing the film to be very fun,” says Chun. “I created an ephemeral and mysterious atmosphere for the film reminiscent of isolation and the virus’ unknowns. I wanted to arouse curiosity, so I only showed the process of knitting and close-ups of the work. I find knitting to be therapeutic and meditative, and my favorite part of the project was knitting the yarn into my model’s hair.”

Model reclines in fuzzy knitted garment
Work by Jackie Oh 22 AP/FAV.

Combining influences from church, her knowledge of illustration and her life’s ambitions, Jackie Oh 22 AP/FAV has created a complex piece that reflects her inner world. “I have so many ideas, and I worry that people won’t understand my intentions,” she says. “One night I watched the movie Moonrise Kingdom and realized that it includes a lot of the same elements I use in my work: religious iconography, family imagery, a delivery that is both childlike and adult. That’s why I named my collection Sonrise Kingdom.” 

“I find knitting to be therapeutic and meditative, and my favorite part of the project was knitting the yarn into my model’s hair.”

Jessy Chun 22 AP

Clara Collins 22 AP also took the opportunity for self-exploration, investigating the mystery of her father’s childhood history through design. Using a vintage camera to produce a nostalgic effect, she evokes the atmosphere of the past by incorporating everything from old photos of her father to “stereotypical Americana stuff” like potato sacks and rhinestones.

5 models stand against a wall in garments inspired by the American Midwest
A dreamlike collection by Clara Collins 22 AP inspired by the American midwest.

“I am trying to explore memories, dreams, fantasies and imagination,” Collins says. “I found a beautiful vintage wedding dress at an antiques mall in Rhode Island. Every time I touch it, the silk rips, but the way that it rips is so beautiful. I wanted to evoke that feeling of disintegration and falling away.”

Two models pose together wearing antique clothing
Sofia Michaelides 22 AP bases her looks on vintage pieces and her own playful wardrobe.

Sofia Michaelides 22 AP also has a passion for vintage clothing. Her design company, Demetra Vintage, focuses on sustainable, repurposed antique clothing. “I use my own fashion as a starting point for my design work,” says Michaelides. “It’s not about traditional fashion—that doesn’t feel realistic or wearable. I mix materials that you don’t traditionally see together.”

The apparel senior film lights up Market Square

As the films lit up the square, Morgan was captured by what she describes as the students’ “deep dive into self. There is a very personal unraveling that shows up in the work,” she says. “There is also tenderness in the films, which seems to represent a healing of self and community and the cultivation of a better world.” 

—Isabel Roberts

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