Student work hits the runway at SAIC Fashion Show

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School of the Art Institute of Chicago sophomores, juniors and seniors created over 200 unique garments, which were shown at the school’s 81st annual runway show May 8. (Josh Leff / The DePaulia)

School of the Art Institute of Chicago sophomores, juniors and seniors created over 200 unique garments, which were shown at the school’s 81st annual runway show May 8. (Josh Leff / The DePaulia)

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) presented their 81st annual runway show, Fashion 2015 May 8. Sophomores, juniors and seniors created over 200 original garments, shown in an electrifying runway show throughout the day at Millennium Park’s Chase Promenade. Fashion 2015 culminated The Walk, SAIC’s annual benefit, which aims to support the production of student’s work and scholarships.

This year, The Walk awarded world-renowned fashion critic, filmmaker and journalist, Diane Pernet as SAIC’s Legend of Fashion. Although it wasn’t just Pernet that made the night special, SAIC students and faculty truly put on a spectacular fashion show. With the help of faculty, students were able to present their stunning designs, intriguing soundscapes, exquisite garments and cutting-edge looks. Students were able to produce these works through their knowledge of various techniques, such as, sculpture, performance, design, architecture, and installation.

(Josh Leff / The DePaulia)

(Josh Leff / The DePaulia)

The show was broken down into four sections, beginning with a performance piece entitled The Dolls. The performance was a media ballet produced by Claudia Hart, an artist and Associate Professor of Film, Video, New Media and Animation at SAIC. Hart was inspired by the philosophy of eternal return, the idea that history endlessly renews itself through a process of decadence, decay and rebirth.

“I always make these conflicts between something that’s very contemplative and meditative and sort of spiritual,” said Hart. “A language that is techy and pop, like in this case, the graphics were animated logos of both big American corporations, mostly tech corporations and collapsed empires of the world.”

These ideas were shown through eight white paper-doll performers, who performed choreographed movements. The “dolls” wore white body suits and white cardboard cutouts of tutu dresses sandwiching the performers. The dresses functioned as movie screens for Hart’s hypnotizing animations making the audience feel as if they were seeing flashing lights in Time Square. Though the animations were not random, Hart used specific clips of current logos and graphic icons of major corporations. She also had clips of what she called Doll Houses, which were pieces of architecture from various historical periods of empires that collapsed. This represented the idea of decadence, decay and the death of kings and empires, while simultaneously showing the high-tech asthetic.

“I did collapsed empires through the entire world,” Hart said. “I took the icons and symbols of the kings, queens like their scepters and crowns and made logos out of them with all of the students.”

After the performance ended, the fashion show began with the sophomore’s who each presented one avant-garde look. This was their first fashion show, and they were only allowed to work with white cotton and accents of gold. Then the juniors presented a three-look collection, followed by the seniors who showcased a complete selection of five looks.

Sophomore Kellia Yao designed a structured look for the show with all liner shapes. But next year, Yao hopes to have a completely different look for the show.

“This year was very robotic, so next year I want to have some ready to wear.”  Yao said. “But I’m not thinking about next year just yet. I need a vacation. I need a break so bad.”

(Josh Leff / The DePaulia)

(Josh Leff / The DePaulia)

Another student and accessory designer, Riley Liu designed three hats and one bag for junior designer, Nana Park. Park’s all white collection resembled a bridal style and Liu made what she believed to be bridal headwear and accessories. One of Liu’s most important pieces was a white vacuformed plastic hat, made from a mold and then laser cut.

Tommy Walton, accessory design and fashion faculty emphasized that it’s students like Liu who will be able to do many things in her career because of the way SAIC “cross trains” their students.

“Riley can sew, she can mold, she can sculpt, but then Riley has these eyes. She’s a visionary and Riley is young, but when we talk she is not a young person inside,” Walton said. “There is something different inside of Riley that is going to shock the world.”

But Liu is just one student. Senior designer, Annie Au, said she was inspired to do her collection by a short story she wrote.

“The story was about this future society that every five years there’s a thing called ‘the shuffle’ where everybody is assigned to move somewhere new.” said Au. “I guess it’s sort of based off of my own experiences because I’m Australian, but my family moved to Beijing and then I moved here for school and there’s a lot of confusion when people ask me ‘where are you from?’ its kind of a hard question to answer.”

Walton said the show wouldn’t be what it is without the help of the other SAIC departments.

“It’s a collaborative effort between all of these different departments, because we have our sound department, set design, lighting design, everyone is coming together to make this production happen,” said Walton.