Apparel Design seniors present work in progress that reveals the thinking behind what they’re making and why.
Fashion on Film
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.”
“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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
“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.”
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.”
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.”
May 26, 2022