Designers bring e.motion to the runway

The annual College of Design fashion show illustrated the emotional side of the design process while also highlighting designers’ growth.

Mariah Shingler waits back stage during e.motion, the University of Minnesotas apparel design fashion show on Saturday, Feb. 2 at Rapson Hall. Shingler modeled for Pyro fashion designed by Emily Dufault. 

Image by Jasmin Kemp

Mariah Shingler waits back stage during “e.motion,” the University of Minnesota’s apparel design fashion show on Saturday, Feb. 2 at Rapson Hall. Shingler modeled for Pyro fashion designed by Emily Dufault. 

by Becca Most

Year after year, the University of Minnesota College of Design’s spring fashion show serves as a rite of passage for students. This year’s show, “e.motion,” managed to hold onto this tradition.

Presented collections, however, were anything but customary. (And that’s the way it should be.)

Held on Saturday night, students, faculty, families and fashion professionals from around the Twin Cities gathered in Ralph Rapson Hall, waiting with anticipation for models to hit the runway.

Stunning the crowd with pieces ranging from blush-colored lingerie to sequined club-ready blazers, 12 design students presented the individual collections they had been working on since September.

“Making clothes is not easy, and it’s something that we take for granted,” said design senior Caroline Albers, who presented her collection “Forward.” “I take it for granted too, and I make clothes!”

The students chose the theme “e.motion” not only to reflect the emotional intensity of the design program as a whole, but also to emphasize the process of moving forward through design itself.

“My work is kind of an embodiment of my emotions about the subject [I’m working on],” said senior design student Maddy Rooney. “When my collection is presented, I want it to evoke emotion in the audience, whatever that may be.”

Rooney’s line, “compulsion,” was inspired by the feeling of escapism and the human need to organize one’s surroundings.

In experimenting with the way patterns and cloth hit the body, Rooney used materials like white mesh, metallic green fabric and transparent plastic to create her sci-fi-esque collection.

Due to small class sizes, some of the students say they’ve become almost like family during their four years in the program.

“I feel that … from day one up until now has been a really rough journey, just because we’ve lost so many throughout the way,” said design student Ivan Gil who presented the line “Luna.” “A lot of people kept dropping [the program], so for all of us to make it to the end, it definitely took a lot of sacrifice, a lot of blood, sweat and tears.”

Ashleyn Przedwiecki, the event coordinator for “e.motion,” said the collaborative spirit of the students is something she doesn’t see very often as an event planner.

“It’s a pretty small and tight-knit program. Everyone was willing to step up and really support each other,” Przedwiecki said. “That was a really unique aspect of this particular class.”

Students took initiative on a variety of tasks in preparation for the show, gaining experience in areas like marketing, promotion and event planning.

“The [University]’s program is really cool in that it is very well rounded and it gave us a lot of experiences to things that are not just fabric and clothing design,” Albers said. “That really contributes to going out into the workforce because if you want to go into clothing design you can do that, or if you want to go into something more technical you have the opportunities that can put you there.”

As each designer captured the stage with their own unique style and mood, the audience was able to take away something greater than admiration for the clothes themselves.

“There’s so many things that go into design. It’s very emotional, it’s very connective,” Przedwiecki said. “This show is almost a coming of age piece. It’s really showcasing more than just a collection, it’s almost an identity.”