Artists Weave Lived Experience with Design at CCAD Senior Fashion Show Preview

Randi Walle Randi Walle Artists Weave Lived Experience with Design at CCAD Senior Fashion Show Preview
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Columbus ranks high in the fashion industry — number three in the country in fact — and the fashion students coming out of Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) play a huge part in that. Every spring, seniors in CCAD’s fashion program design and create pieces to be displayed at their Senior Fashion Show. Each student participating in the show creates a unique line, drawing inspiration from their owns lives, upbringings, and passions.

Fifteen students total will participate in the Senior Fashion Show in May. From conception to designing, to fitting models, the seniors have been working throughout the school year to create a unique line of clothes to display. Last week, CCAD held a preview event where six of the 15 students showed samples of their work. Author of New York Times Best Seller Worn Stories Emily Spivack interviewed the panel of students, asking questions about their backgrounds, their inspiration, and their hopes for the future.

Chelsea Funk understands the struggle of finding clothes that fit and accommodate unique body types. Born with amniotic band syndrome, Funk recalls her own childhood and the challenges she faced with fashion, and used that as inspiration to create a line of adaptive children’s clothing. Each of her four pieces is specifically tailored to the child who will wear the piece in the show. For example, a piece designed for a child in a wheelchair who wears leg braces and has a feeding tube has stylish zippers on the lower half of the pant legs and a discreet opening in the shirt to accommodate the tube. Funk also used stuffed animals as inspiration, so each piece is designed to resemble a stuffed animal. She hopes her line can change the industry, and that she can open her own boutique in Columbus dedicated to working with children and designing clothes that are fun, fashionable, and adaptive to their specific needs.

Hsunyin Chang is also striving for fashion to be more inclusive. Growing up, Chang was given the freedom to wear androgynous clothes, which influenced her decision to create a unisex line. She drew a lot of her inspiration from insects, noting how in many species there was very little obvious distinction between males and females. Incorporating that idea, her unisex line has depictions of seemingly genderless insects.

Natalia Monserrate came to CCAD from Puerto Rico to study art and immediately fell in love with fashion, specifically film and theatre costumes. She says costume design is a huge part of film and theatre, and realizes the costume designers are often under-recognized. She hopes to help change this when she breaks into the industry. For her collection, Monserrate drew inspiration from Diana the Huntress, the ancient goddess, designing fashionable gowns that represent Diana’s strength. Throughout the process she worked with various fabrics and metals, and even learned how to make chain mail.

Kathryn Geraci has long been a collector and appreciator of flowers. When she was designing her collection, she used the flowers she had seen during her travels around Europe for inspiration. She used watercolor to hand create each pattern, and then printed her creations on a fabric printer. Each item is named for its place of origin. Her dress, Stella, has a pattern of lemons from Sicily, and is named after her grandmother who is from Sicily.

Erica Rodney is the only MFA student exhibiting in the show. She wanted her collection to explore the line between fashion and fine art, and the result is more conceptual than utilitarian. She used artificial black hair, called Kanekalon, to create braids on her apparel. Wanting her garments to be inclusive, she strived to create pieces that were fashionably adjustable – creating one item that is adjustable in size instead of producing the same piece of clothes in multiple sizes – a trend she hopes to see in the fashion world.

Luyao Zhang grew up wearing clothes that were hand knitted by her mother and grandmother. She has come to appreciate knitting and macramé techniques, and utilized both to create her collection. She drew her inspiration from the Baroque and Rococo architecture styles, interpreting them in a modern way. Each piece she handmade by tacking hemp braids and knits together in a freeform process by piecing fragments together.

This year’s Senior Fashion Show, featuring these and other designers, will be held at the Greater Columbus Convention Center Short North Ballroom, 400 N. High St, on Friday, May 11 at 7 p.m. Tickets and more information can be found at

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