Admit it: When you were applying to Cornell, you weren’t coming here because Cornell is fashionable. Hot? Yes. But fashionable? Most students are just trying to get to their 9:05 a.m. class usually in comfortable Cornell apparel. However, there are the few that do not let Libe Slope dictate their fashion choices. For these fashion-forward individuals Cornell Design League’s 26th annual fashion show, which took place Saturday night in Barton Hall, was just the creative outlet to let these fashion fanatics strut their stuff.
The Cornell Design League (CDL) is a student run organization that started out as a two-person fashion show and has since expanded to over 65 designers from every major and every experience level. With varying abilities, students are placed into different categories depending on their proficiency level. Level One are first year designers who showcase one outfit. Level Two designers create two outfits that have a similar underlying concept. Level Three designers are considered “full line designers” and have five pieces show. The highest level at CDL is Level Four and they are the “senior full line designers” with a collection of seven items.
Before the show began, designers and models were frantically finishing off last minute design aesthetics from how to walk on the runway to the tiniest make-up details. Liz Wheeler ’12, an Apparel Design major was very excited for her Level Two showcasing. “It took a long time, but I’m very pleased with it.” Her collection, inspired by Peter Pan and Wendy, came together during winter break when the sketching phase began.
Along with the designers, the models were just as appetent to walk the newly expanded, triangular runway. To model for the show, there is no audition required and everyone is welcomed. Sam Schwalje ’13, modeled for her friend and Level One designer Sally Schultz ’13. While some may feel that using friends as a model could come at a cost (there can be no happy ending to any issues over weight), Sally wanted to use her friends since “they tell the truth and wanted her to feel comfortable.”
When the lights finally went down and the intense music began, the Level One designers entered. The designs ranged from beautifully constructed draping to choppy and edgy pieces. Since each designer only had one ensemble, the detail was incredible from each and every designer.
After the 22 designers and two collaboration collections showed, the Level Two fashioners were up. The 19 designers were just as impressive in their detail, yet also showed consistent progression in their two-piece collection. In the collaboration When the Sirens Sounded, the calm and sandy beach effect was clearly stated in each and every creation. Each outfit was magnificent as a stand-alone piece, with straps made of seashells and the sand-color material that flowed like ocean waves. It was a warm reminder that summer is on the way.
During the Level Two showing, the collection Feedback showed the only men’s collection of the evening. If the collection was a glimpse into any trends of the future, then the men of Cornell will be walking around looking like they walked off the set of Top Gun, due to the military-esqe themes.
Up next were the 13 Level Three designers. As Associate Professor Van Dyk Lewis, fiber science and apparel design, one of the advisors for the CDL and MC of the evening stated that the designers were now “designing messages into work of art.” This added level created greater dramatic effect. The collections that really made a statement were Lustre by Candice Elliott ‘11, Rockcandy by Leah Plante ‘11 and La Belle Dame Sans Merci by Lily Simon ‘13. The themes that ran throughout the collections was a “bigger is better” vibe. Big shorts, big trains and big hair.
After a brief intermission, the final showcases were up. The Level Four Senior Full Line Designers were the most experienced, abstract designs at the show. Their usage of big patterns, capes and fantastic draping had the audience gasping with glee at each and every outfit. The audience favorites included Antebellum by Sarah Wilson ‘10, Obscuirty by Christine Wong ‘10, Vixen by Jeanne Douglass ‘10 and Muse by Laura Fowkes ‘10. Each of these collections stood out not only for their larger-than-life designs, but also for their creative storytelling through those pieces. For example, Muse told the tale of the modern interpretation of the nine muses and how modern day women do not put up with being used for inspiration and then be thrown away. This tale gave off an edgy and vixen like effect.
By the end of the three-hour show, the audience was convinced of the incredibly creative talent that goes on at Cornell. As the show concluded, President of the CDL Andrea Mayer ’10 quoted her professor who reminds the students that, “We are Cornellians, we can do this.”
Click here for a slideshow of this year's annual Cornell Design League fashion show.