Collection 16 Has It All
Exciting new work by graduating Apparel Design seniors Fred Mezidor, Jingxin Xu, Chris Mena, Sade Butt and Sarah Sullivan.
Making last-minute adjustments before models hit the runway, 19 seniors in Apparel Design were excited to present their individual takes on fashion in Collection 16, the department’s annual runway show. For the first time this year, the two shows on Saturday, May 7 took place in an unexpected but intriguing venue – the Fleet Library at RISD.
“It has been a thrill to watch our students evolve as designers and makers this year as they’ve immersed themselves in their craft and developed their unique voices,” says Department Head Neil Gilks, who directed the hour-long show. “Collection offers us an opportunity to celebrate as [students] prepare for the next phase in their journey.”
Since models walked a path through the library stacks, where viewers were lined up to see them, and each student collection was shown consecutively, designers worked to differentiate their models with accessories and hair and makeup styles that signaled a different look. For instance, models wearing work by Sasha Gregg 16 AP sported matching pink wigs, and Allison Morgan BRDD 16 AP (a Brown-RISD dual degree student who focused on the History of Art + Architecture and French Studies at Brown) topped off her looks with floral headdresses.
Each designer expressed his or her voice through a clear and very personal thesis concept. Ka Young Jeong 16 AP created baseball caps studded with grommets for each of her models, highlighting the focus on engineering that pervaded her entire collection. Baseball also played a central role in the work of Adam Dalton Blake 16 AP, whose models walked the runway in cleats and carried glittering bats and other sports-inspired accessories. “Big League Chew,” says Blake of his collection, “is for the man who likes to watch baseball – but [more] for the tight pants and [to hear the] Star Spangled Banner.”
Showing womenswear, Sade Butt 16 AP completely knocked it out of the park with elegant, beautifully made dresses, skirts and tops with pops of leather and metal. “My thesis collection is an exploration of urban Jamaican landscapes,” she explains, “translated through layers of contrasting textiles, patchwork and metal leafing.”
Brittany McGinnis 16 AP also used leather in her collection, combining it with fur, suede, silk and velvet. Her looks are casually hip with flowing lines and chic accents. A leather jacket featuring fur-striped, caterpillar-like sleeves really stood out.
In contrast Chris Mena 16 AP presented a cohesive, urban-cool collection made entirely of repurposed pieces from his own wardrobe. He debuted his earth-conscious collection last month as part of the international Fashion Revolution, which helped to raise awareness of the apparel industry’s dark side.
The ethereal pieces by Chinese native Jingxin Xu 16 AP struck a serious chord in the largely playful show. Her collection, she explains, “reexamines the definition of perfection from a personal standpoint and explores conflict and harmony between the paradox of spiritual freedom and imposed constraint.” Xu achieves this by juxtaposing ultra-feminine, transparent tops incorporating handmade organza flowers and Chantilly lace with chunky, tweedy knits.
From romance to funk to mermen dresses, Collection 16 presented something for everyone. Jacob Blau 16 AP, whose menswear collection is inspired by “the dazzling debauchery of the Baroque,” hopes to land a job with Thom Browne menswear after Commencement. “I have always found great inspiration in specific time periods, moods and emotions,” Blau says. “At RISD I’ve learned not to take inspiration at face value, but to fully research using all sources available in order to effectively evoke such feelings.”
Just in time for summer, KORE SWIM cofounder Jessica Schulz 08 AP has collaborated with illustrator Joana Avillez 08 IL to create whimsical printed swimwear.
Newly hired Assistant Professor of Apparel Design Gwen van den Eijnde designs clothing and costumes that are stunning, timeless and otherworldly.
As the new head of Apparel Design, British designer Neil Gilks is looking forward to building on RISD’s interdisciplinary “magic.”