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“Crunch. Crunch time,” said Tessa Druley , clothing design senior, with her beige straw fedora pushed up over her eyes. Her gaze was fixed hard on the clipboard in her hands. As the backstage chair of this year’s 41st annual senior fashion show “Exposed,” Druley watched anxiously from the balcony as the scurrying designers readied the performance space and styles.
Models were perched ceremoniously on slate-colored foldout chairs enduring a constant stream of hairspray and allowing hunched artists to finish the last pops of lime green eyeshadow. With only four hours until the opening of the doors in Rapson Hall , models were halted, stylists were late and makeup artists were taking their sweet time.
“Since this is the first time that friends and family will see [the last four years of work],” said Druley, “everyone wants everything to be perfect.”
Faultlessness is where they had been aiming for the past few months. In fact, a few of the seniors were still putting the finishing stitches on garments to be worn Saturday evening.
This year’s students wanted to maintain a professional air about their show, so fundraising began months in advance. Professionals were hired out for photography, lights, sound, hair and makeup. Even the show’s program was laboriously constructed.
Each student featured four garments in the show and many hired out professional models to do the walking. The design and angle of each student is varied and unique, so they decided as a group to opt out of a specific theme that would tie the entire show together. This was a departure from last year’s show, which had the avant-garde theme “Abandon Your Threads. “
The lines range from costume to experimental. Stacey Wenzel worked with flowing lines and abstract hems, while Luci Kandler , a co-designer of the new fashion line Calpurnia Peach , featured golden-yellow tights, dresses with thimble prints and high-waisted shorts with thick brass detailing.
Druley aimed her designer’s eye on high-fashion drama for this show. She said, “I wanted something regal, but wearable at the same time.” Her models were gearing to sport high-contrast fabric, since Druley chose to pair diverse pieces. Her featured outfit was a mash-up of high-waisted leather paints with black leather detailing, a shimmery blue halter and a stiff knit jacket and hand pieces. Altogether, she aimed for “a balance of structure and show … [revolving] around the fabric and the way it lays.”
She drew much of this year’s work from high-fashion designers Balenciaga and Jil Sander. “[Balenciaga] can form something wearable,” she said. “But still have a statement and a bit of innovation.”
Dr. Missy Bye , the director of the clothing design department, has accompanied these students on their journey through the clothing design. Throughout the day, she drifted around the stage and dressing room assuring that everything was continuing smoothly, offering a word of advice or reassurance here and there. Of the students, she said, “I’m delighted. This show will be the best so far. The bar keeps raising [each year], and the students rise to meet it again and again.”
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