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CCAD Students Share Inspiration, Creativity Behind Looks for Annual Fashion Show

Randi Walle Randi Walle CCAD Students Share Inspiration, Creativity Behind Looks for Annual Fashion Show(l-r) Looks from Jesamie Houghtby, Levi Li, Dom Susi and Alexandra Braughton - Photos provided by CCAD
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The Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) Fashion Show presented by L Brands Foundation returns this year with a unique hybrid experience! On Friday, May 14, guests can attend a viewing of the pre-recorded runway show at the Easton Community Drive-in for a socially-distanced, in-person experience, or they can stream the show at home for a virtual experience.

This year’s show consists of 18 designers, 17 completing their Bachelor of Fine Arts with a major in Fashion Design and one Master of Fine Arts candidate. The designers drew their inspiration from a variety of places — family history, extreme sports, classic art, architecture, social justice, self-image, futurism and more — with each creating a collection that tells a story, conveys a feeling, represents their upbringing, or sends a message. The materials utilized were equally as diverse: hardware from a motocross bike, faux leather, naturally dyed fabrics, thrifted materials, denim, and sarees.

Learn more about the inspiration behind some of the designs that will be featured on the virtual runway at this year’s fashion show.

Dom Susi

“When I create I like to stay up all night listening to The Doors while pondering which zipper length will create the most flattering silhouettes.”

Dom Susi has always had an interest in the blend of high fashion and streetwear. As he watched the evolution of this industry, he grew more interested in the concept of taking an iconic garment design and giving it more value through materials and technique. While working in the real estate industry in Brooklyn, Susi spent much of his free time in Manhattan—specifically SoHo—where he went to trade shows and worked with manufacturers to make his own pieces. When he realized how little he knew of the technical aspect of design, he decided to follow his passion and enrolled in CCAD to study design.

While designing his collection Cascading Epinephrine, Susi drew inspiration from his upbringing in rural Ohio along with his lifelong interest in skateboarding and snowboarding. His down-stuffed pieces are a nod to action sports while being unique in their asymmetrical design and intricate patterns. Susi hopes to pursue a sustainable alternative for down and wants to help move the industry toward a zero-waste model.

Mims Gatewood wearing a look from Dom Susi’s collection, “Cascading Epinephrine”

Jesamie Houghtby

“My senior thesis collection amelioration // reclamation sets to send out a message of beauty in the unyielding, positivity where you least expect it, and to encourage conversations about death.”

Ohio native Jesamie Houghtby’s collection amelioration // reclamation is a unique blend of experiences, influences, and inspiration. Following the death of a close friend, Houghtby felt our funeral process didn’t allow room for grief and, as a result, got connected with the death-positive movement and learned about eco-funerals.

Houghtby was drawn to the Brutalism style architecture after seeing a Brutalist building on the cover of a favorite album by the Belarusian group Molchat Doma. The movement peaked in the mid-1900s and many buildings have since been reclaimed by nature. Hougtby combined the harsh lines and minimalist designs of the Brutalism style with both the concept of being reclaimed by nature and eco-funerals in a 100% biodegradable collection.

Michelle Feng wearing a look from Jesamie Houghtby‘s collection, “amelioration // reclamation”

Levi Li

“An antique soul resides in the body of a modern girl.”

Drawing on her heritage for inspiration, Levi Li’s collection titled Chengdu Teahouse Crush features elements of traditional Chinese culture with a modern twist. Li utilizes antique techniques, such as crochet and embroidery, and antique elements, such as pearls and lace. She combines those with contemporary fabrics to show how people can create garments with unique antique skill, and focus on precious garments in the past, in this case, specifically, a 16th century Chinese teahouse.

Li is the only Master of Fine Arts candidate in the show. She received her Bachelor’s in Fashion Design while studying in China and Japan before coming to Columbus two years ago. When creating this collection, she drew upon her time in Tokyo where she frequented antique shops and fell in love with traditional clothing.

Melanie Campbell wearing a look from Levi Li’s collection, “Chengdu Teahouse Crush”

Alexandra Braughton

“I am shaping my collection while my collection is shaping me…It’s a give and take that never really stops.”

When Alexandra Broughton didn’t like the way her high school uniform looked, she decided to get a sewing machine and change it, thus sparking her interest in design. She taught herself to sew, and went on to study retail merchandising and fashion product design at Ohio University before transferring to CCAD to pursue a degree in design. She has a passion for sustainability and feels a responsibility to create items that are sustainable throughout the item’s lifecycle and hopes to help shift the industry toward that end.  

The concept for her collection Timeworn/Torn came to Broughton when she stumbled upon an album by the 1970s British punk-rock band Buzzcocks. She was immediately taken by the cover image of a dilapidated house, with peeling wallpaper and worn-out furniture, and began to research other similar images. She took those images and created a three-look collection that evokes the ideas of dilapidation such as peeling paint and vintage furniture. Keeping in line with her passion for sustainability, her materials are hand-dyed, repurposed, and/or biodegradable. Her unique design process is based on a conceptual foundation but allows pieces to evolve as she creates them.

Jeanette Ogden wearing a look from Alexandra Braughton’s collection, “Timeworn/Torn”

Marvin Hutchins

“I wanted to design a collection where education was truly at the center of it for both my viewers and myself. I’ve learned so much and I hope that my collection will teach others something as well.”

Marvin Hutchins credits his interest in fashion to his mother, who taught him about designers and brands from a young age. As a high schooler, Hutchins knew he wanted to be in the fashion industry but knew very little about it. He took a home economics class and learned to make theatre costumes and formal wear, and through that earned a scholarship at CCAD. One of the first things he learned at CCAD was bicycles were the reason women started to wear pants, as long skirts were impractical. That stuck with him, and he went on to study Hannah Ross’s book Revolutions: How Women Changed the World on Two Wheels, which explains how the bicycle led to women’s liberation. Hutchins took that idea and juxtaposed it against women seeking freedom and expression though biking and hiking, specifically during the pandemic.

Hutchins believes design is centered around making the world a better place, and he hopes to educate himself and others about social issues through his designs. He spent a lot of time researching historical context and events for his collection Physical Activism: Exploration in the Context of Women’s Liberation, specifically Karl Lagerfeld’s approach to connecting social and environmental issues with design, and his collection will present itself like a research paper.

Michele Weaver wearing a look from Marvin Hutchins’ collection, “Physical Activism: Exploration in the Context of Women’s Liberation”

Grace Warren

“This collection explores the notions of liberation by modernizing prairie dresses with natural dye techniques and accompanying them with crocheted accents that speak to artisanal practices.”

Grace Warren, a transfer student from Indianapolis, recalls being interested in fashion from a young age, specifically drawing designs. That interest drew her to the realistic paintings of women by artist Benjamin Wu during the westward expansion period, which ultimately inspired her four-piece collection Liberation: Homage to the Heroine.

Warren’s prairie-style ensembles are hand-dyed with natural items such as pomegranate skins, black tea, and coffee. She said consistency and color accuracy were the hardest part of naturally dying multiple articles. Each outfit is accompanied by a crocheted accessory, such as a vest or purse, that speaks to the inspiration time period and the lost art of crochet. Warren also draws continual inspiration from the aesthetic design of designer Ulla Johnson as well as how she ethically sources fabrics.

Takia Bryant wearing a look from Grace Warren’s collection, “Liberation: Homage to the Heroine.”

Tickets are on sale now through May 10 at ccadfashionshow.com/tickets.

All photos provided by CCAD

Columbus Underground is the media sponsor for the 2021 CCAD Fashion Show

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