Fantastical and Sustainable Fashion Takes Center Stage at Design X

Twenty-six fashion design students displayed 39 whimsical pieces, all modeled by University students.

Twenty-six fashion design students displayed 39 whimsical pieces, all modeled by University students.

Relying on unassuming items like plastic bags, dog bone treats, lentils, coffee filters and shoelaces, juniors in the fashion design problem-solving course exercised their creativity to develop new and often unusual solutions to answer the basic design problem of covering the body.

To produce the experimental looks at the annual Design X fashion show, students received abstract briefs and used little or no fabric. They had just a few weeks and $20 to complete their designs showcased in front of a cheering crowd in Downs Auditorium Nov. 8.

Twenty-six fashion design students displayed 39 whimsical pieces, all modeled by University students. Jay McCarroll, fashion design alumnus and “Project Runway” winner, served as Design X commentator.

This year’s show also included a fashion sustainability challenge for the first time. Students sourced unwanted garments and textiles and reworked them for an entirely new look.

Fashion design students had just a few weeks and $20 to complete their looks.

Fashion design students had just a few weeks and $20 to complete their looks for Design X.

“The catch was they couldn’t create any waste in the process,” said Carly Kusy, fashion design instructor at Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University), who co-teaches the course with adjunct faculty member Carrie Collins. “It was an excellent opportunity for them to study the fashion industry’s textile waste crisis and come up with innovative and resourceful solutions to address the issue on a small scale.”

In student Vanessa Fath’s zero-waste design, she made a jumpsuit entirely out of two pairs of thrifted jeans and incorporated all the scraps into accessories. “I was inspired by the juxtaposition of how practical denim is to our everyday lives versus how detrimental the process of making a pair of jeans is to our environment,” she explained.

Devon Kremmelbein showed off two looks at Design X. In the first one, she took inspiration from the delicate feathers of the cattle egret and mimicked the way the bird moves with safety pins, beads, shredded paper and pieces of plastic cups. Her second look was inspired by the painting Mademoiselle Yvonne Landsberg by Henri Matisse, and she used old window screens, metal circles from a hamper and plastic tubes.

Tommy Heidebrecht also designed two projects, modeling one of them himself—an upcycling project inspired by influential designer Martin Margiela, as well as NYC Pride and the colors of the various pride flags that celebrate the LGBTQIA community. He thrifted a skirt, scarf and three blouses and used some other fabric and trim from previous projects. The end result was a bodysuit, mask and accessories made from the scrap fabric leftover from constructing the main garment.

“This unique fashion show features the fantastical rather than the practical allowing students to fully explore new techniques and processes,” Kusy said. “As a result, they become more innovative, resourceful designers empowered to push boundaries and question the status quo, which really speaks to Jefferson’s philosophy as a whole.”

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