Apparel Design Seniors Present Cohesive Collections at RISD’s Annual Runway Show

Sue Sima walks the runway hand in hand with a model

From flowing capes to intricately stitched leather to jeweled headpieces, this year’s RISD Apparel Design runway show had it all. Presented on May 24 in Providence’s WaterFire Arts Center, Collection 2024 picked up on a tradition begun in the 1970s by longtime Professor Emerita Lorraine Howes.

“The senior collections reflect a great variety of references and approaches to clothing the body,” says current Department Head Gwen Van Den Eijnde. “Every collection synthesizes a number of indispensable elements—from knowledge of the tactile qualities of cloth to proportion and silhouette in relation to the human body—in order to create expressive individual statements about culture and identity.”

models line up backstage in green and white striped dresses that spell please
models line up backstage in looks combining sheers and business suits
Cohesive, well-constructed collections by graduating Apparel Design seniors Kailin Hartley (top image) and Glory Lee (below).

The show began with Funeral Poem II by Yiyi Wang 24 AP, a cohesive body of work inspired by the passing of the designer’s grandfather. “Drawing inspiration from traditional mourning attire, I've emphasized layering in both pattern and construction,” she says. “The silhouette takes cues from Eastern geometric patterns, deconstructed to add volume and sculptural depth.”

That consistency of form was apparent in many of the collections that followed, including Beetle Girls!!! by Sofia Zhuk-Vasilyeva 24 AP, Glints by Ace Yin 24 AP and 3…2…1! by Kailin Hartley 24 AP. Zhuk-Vasilyeva’s looks featured bright colors, revealing cutouts and other-worldly purple shoulder pads, with each model representing a character in the designer’s post-apocalyptic sci-fi fantasy. “The wool is sculpted into spikes and curved shapes that imitate the beetle form,” she says, “… and beading and iridescent spray paint add a shine similar to the shine of the elytra [or wing] on a beetle.”

Yin’s collection features Swarovski crystals that caught the light beautifully during the show as well as tea-dyed wool and satin taffeta. She describes it as a “rewriting of a restrictive past of [Christian] dogma and a reclaiming of a buried self,” adding, “A crucifix blurred is a star. A lace chapel veil illuminated, sparkles.”

models wearing plaid looks by Fiona Fronnapiel walk the runway
detail of pocket stiching and branding in back of jeans
Above, Fiona Frohnapfel showed asymmetrical plaids and oversized silhouettes in her first runway show; below, Henry Hawk used antique sewing machines to create authentic, beautifully detailed denim pieces.

Hartley’s work is more playful than the rest, with an entire series of minidresses in bold green-and-white stripes that spell out the word please in the front and me in the back. The work was inspired, the designer says, by the 1969 Ennio Morricone soundtrack to the Italian Giuseppe Patroni Griffi film Metti, una sera a cena (Love Circle). “In my debut collection, I experimented with uniformity by reinterpreting a single character through a plethora of lenses,” Hartley adds.

On the more serious side, Darkness, Keep Me Close by Hasti Hosseini 24 AP features sheer ivories and open-weave knits as well as striped and plaid separates revealing the designer’s eye for detail. Also in the realm of the serious, with an added twist of business attire, What Suits Me by Brown|RISD Dual Degree student Glory Lee BRDD 24 AP plays with pinstripes in mischievous ways. “By reinterpreting conventional suits into unique silhouettes, the collection explores and maintains a delicate balance between structure and freedom, youth and maturity, conformity and originality,” the designer explains. 

Models backstage ready to walk
gauzy, ivory-colored skirts on barefoot models
Above (and top photo), Sue Sima’s Blade Dancers exude strength and fluidity; below, three ethereal looks by Hasti Hosseini in cotton, mohair and lace. 

Such dichotomies—in this case function vs decoration and new vs old— also come into play in Patent Paradise, an upcycled collection by Henry Hawk 24 AP. Hawk, who will represent RISD at the annual Supima Design Competition in September, researched turn-of-the-(19th)-century patents filed by Levi Strauss and Co. and other workwear manufacturers using riveted denim.

“These adorned utilitarian styles have become more relevant than ever,” he says. “My collection is produced with antique 100-year-old Singer sewing machines… sewn traditionally with a single needle, tailoring techniques, darning appliqués, patchwork and hand embroidery.” Hawk’s sophisticated construction details hit the mark at Collection 2024 and will no doubt wow Supima’s judges at New York Fashion Week.

Simone Solondz / photos by Jonas Gustavsson and Jo Sittenfeld
May 30, 2024

Related Stories