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Step Right Up: CCAD’s 2009 Senior Fashion Show

Melanie McIntyre Melanie McIntyre
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Columbus College of Art & Design’s 2009 Senior Fashion Show was like a circus− in a good way.

Guests filing into the show’s venue –a tent at CCAD’s design studios on Broad Street that looked like it was plucked straight out of New York Fashion Week− were greeted by clowns on stilts and amused by a juggler/tight rope walker. But the real entertainment began 25 minutes after noon on Saturday as the first of 26 student designers sent their models down the runway.

“Circus Couture” was this year’s theme and it was interesting to see each designer’s take on it. Some interpreted the theme quite literally, showing ensembles featuring animal prints, tent-like skirts, and top hats fit for a ringmaster. Others took a more abstract approach, relying mainly on color (especially the primaries: red, green, and blue), patterns (stripes, paisley, plaid), and/or design details (such as bows and ruffles) to suggest Barnum & Bailey; not spell it out.

For example, Mary Pool designed a dress with a voluminous pastel pink, blue and purple tulle skirt that resembled tufts of cotton candy, while a second dress of her design featured butter yellow clusters of tulle and a red-and-white-striped bodice that, together, brought cartons of popcorn to mind.

Some of my other favorites were Annie Kocher’s menswear-inspired dresses made solely of striped materials (whimsical but wearable); a burnt orange, multi-tiered, strapless gown that was influenced by the circus in India, according to its designer, Emily Stockwell (The dress is not to be believed. The color is so rich and the designer’s attention to detail puts it in a class of its own.); and a filmy, pale pink floor-length gown with a large multi-colored pinwheel at the waist by Genoveva Christoff (especially eye-catching in motion).

Each student showed two looks, with both their models entering and exiting the runway at the same time but walking it solo. At the close of the 20-minute show, each designer also walked the runway, accompanied by a model in their design, to a remixed version of Britney Spears’ “Circus.”

How appropriate.

However, backstage before the show, CCAD fashion design instructor Suzanne Cotton insisted that the theme for this year’s event was decided in April 2008− long before Spears released her single. With the economy in a slump, “we wanted something uplifting, something fun,” she explained.

Just behind Cotton, four makeup artists (of Mukha Custom Cosmetics & Medi Spa) and four hair stylists (of Ha!r− a Tony Anders Concept) were busily making over the show’s models. A plethora of products occupied nearly every inch of the high top tables in the center of the workspace and several anxious designers milled about.

The scene –that brand of controlled chaos that is particular to runway shows− would have made a great photograph, but I was told media cameras were banned backstage. And an interview seemed a bit invasive at the time. However, I was able to get reactions from two designers after the show.

“I think we’re all very pleased,” said Robin Savage, adding that seeing the whole thing come together –clothes, models, the runway− for the first time was exciting.

“It’s the best show we’ve ever had,” Maddie Etter said. “All the designers really stepped up their game.”

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