Using unconventional materials such as lima beans, loofahs, zip ties, toilet paper and pebbles, fashion design students at Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) manipulated and transformed everyday objects into eye-catching pieces at the annual Design X fashion show Nov. 9.
The avant-garde work comes out of Jefferson’s unique problem-solving course, which allows students to exercise their creativity in ways they might not be able to in more traditional classes, said Carly Kusy, fashion design instructor, who co-teaches the course with adjunct faculty member Carrie Collins.
Students receive abstract briefs and use little or no fabric to solve the basic design problem of covering the body. Students have just a few weeks and $20 to complete their designs.
“These constraints, though abstract in this case, mirror industry and encourage students to be resourceful and innovative—valuable skills they will need to be successful in their careers,” Kusy said. “From a design perspective, these projects allow students to fully exercise their creativity in exploring new and unusual techniques and materials that they can then translate in practical ways for future applications.”
In front of the cheering crowd in Downs Auditorium, 23 fashion design students showed off 44 whimsical looks, all modeled by Jefferson students. Jay McCarroll, fashion design alumnus and “Project Runway” winner, served as Design X commentator.
In one of her two designs shown, Nicole Casanova ’18 used packing peanuts, plastic lids, pasta, coffee filters and stirrers, plastic, fake flowers, straws, paper and confetti. The contrasts between introverted and extroverted personalities served as her inspiration.
“It not only challenged me as a designer, but it also challenged how I choose to reflect my personal beliefs and perspectives,” Casanova said. “I tried to physically represent who I am as a person in a way that’s visual understandable without needing an explanation.”
Yee Fang Ho ’18 had three designs go down the runway. Her diverse inspirations included composer Gustav Holst, the femininity and ethereal magic embodied by angels and Oleg Tselkov’s painting “Golgotha.” She featured materials like plastic bags, stockings, sheet music, cardboard, and hand-painted and crocheted fabric scraps and yarn.
“The biggest challenge was not making my looks too ‘costume-y,’” Ho said. “I aspire to be a costume designer for movies and TV shows, so it was hard for me to reel in my ideas to be more of an avant-garde/high-fashion aesthetic. I really had to see everything through a ‘wearable’ standpoint to edit myself down and simplify my ideas. I’m really proud of my looks. This was one of my favorite classes.”