CDES celebrates 50 years of student fashion

Seniors prepare collections to be revealed at Saturday’s 50th anniversary fashion show.

Dustin Dorris instructs students on how to walk the runway in Rapson Hall on Friday, Feb. 2.

Max Ostenso

Dustin Dorris instructs students on how to walk the runway in Rapson Hall on Friday, Feb. 2.

Kate Drakulic

Saturday night marks the 50th Anniversary of the University of Minnesota Apparel Design Fashion Show. Completely student-run at one time, the show is now integrated into the curriculum of the College of Design’s (CDES) Apparel Design program.

In celebration of the milestone, CDES is presenting “Then and Now: Fashion Show @ 50,” a retrospective exhibition featuring the evolution of student fashion shows through the years. Highlighting the designs of current students and alumni dating back to 1968, the exhibition is only a sneak peek of what has been and what is yet to come.

“It’s the senior fashion show. This is what we’ve been looking forward to since we were freshmen,” said Quinessa Stibbins, an apparel design major and social justice minor, as well as a participating senior in the “This is Now” fashion show. 

“I have a collection of dance costumes that are a social commentary on anti-black violence and the trauma that inflicts on black youth. My models will be dancing instead of walking across the runway,” Stibbins said. She said the dance and costumes were a way to connect her major and minor studies.

Stibbins’ four looks are quiet and constructed from cool colors and movable, breathable fabrics. Once a dancer herself, designing costumes is a way for Stibbins to reconnect with the art form.

“My ideal dream is to be making dance costumes on ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ or ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ or any sort of dance troupe,” Stibbins said. “I’m planning on going to grad school, but that’s more of the realistic path. The dream is to be making dance costumes.”

“This is Now” is the result of an entire year’s worth of coursework. Teaching Specialist and Apparel Design professor Lindsey Strange teaches Studio V, the class which incorporates research and concept development in preparation for the fashion show. 

“This year, I would say the students had a little more variety in their inspiration and who they were designing for,” Strange said. “There are a number of people who are interested in breaking fashion rules, going outside of the gender binary and ignoring the rules of plus-size fashion and of nontraditional body types.”

Strange graduated from the apparel design program in 2007. She began teaching when the current senior class were freshmen.

“Every year is unique. The students work super hard on their collections, and this year was no exception. I’m really proud of their work,” Strange said. 

As a whole, the groups’ collections vary immensely. From artistic and sculptural to conceptual, from sustainability to social justice, each designer closely focused their lines on personal interests and experiences expressed through form, color and texture. 

“We encourage students to work in the industry, but also to challenge it. We empower them to go out and make [the industry] what they want it to be,” Strange said. 

Department head of the design, housing and apparel program Elizabeth Bye noted the significance of this year’s show. 

“There is so much enthusiasm about this being the 50th anniversary … this class of seniors is extremely strong and diverse, and the quality of their work is really top notch,” Bye said. 

“Then and Now: Fashion Show @ 50” will be on display in the HGA Gallery at Rapson Hall through April. “This is Now” will take place Saturday, Feb. 10. at 5:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Rapson Hall. Students are encouraged to meet and greet designers after each show.