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Fashion Comes To COD: Fashion Studies Hosts Annual Fashion Show

Fashion design students showed original design pieces while fashion merchandise students organized the runway event.
Kate+Stuck
Kate Stuck

A storm of eyeshadow and fabric flooded the HEC on May 11th as students and volunteers frantically ran between hair and makeup, fittings, and the runway. For fashion design major Bella Akouri, it was the completion of a semester-long endeavor to create her own fashion line through painstakingly crocheting each and every piece of clothing. It was a bittersweet moment for Akouri, proud as she watched the products of her dedication to fashion descend down a blinding runway, but mournful of the loss of her grandfather, the man who inspired the collection and her passions. 

Amongst the steam of the irons and the sticky residue of hairspray lingering in the air, Akouri was one of 10 students who excitedly stood behind the curtains and watched their collections displayed to a sold-out crowd during COD’s annual Fashion show on May 11th at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. 

Titled “Haute Off The Press,” FASHI 2302 Design Studio Apparel students Ariana Serrato, Bella Akouri, Alaiza Arcega, Zaq Fortuna, Grace Pittinger, Victor Mendoza, Giorgia Dellis, Maria Giannoudakos, Kaylie La Beau-Tucker, and Eleanor Evans showcased a six-piece collection that has been designed and constructed from scratch, ranging in theme from fabric origami to Monet’s Weeping Willows. 

In between the collections, pieces were modeled from various construction classes, nine pieces from six students that were based upon art from the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as bridal gowns from FASHI 2205 Bridal and Couture Techniques students. The turnout was significant, as both sessions were completely sold out. 

The fashion show was a collaborative effort across many classes, departments and specialties. The event was marketed and organized by FASHI 2420 Fashion Promotion students taught by new professor Kate Schaefer. Class members recruited and coordinated models, designed promotional materials and the runway and ran the event. Hair and makeup were done by students in the Cosmetology department and Photography students captured the models before and during the runway. 

Despite the surrounding chaos, Nelson Cantada, chair of the Fashion Studies department, was remarkably calm. Cantada is the professor of the Design Studio Apparel class and has been working with the 10 students since January, whose work all culminated for this event. 

“We’re probably close to 100 outfits. It just shows the scope of it, so many people and outfits are involved,” Cantada said. “For me, this is the most relevant to my work experience, because I worked for a brand that used to show in New York Fashion Week, so this feels natural to me and what I always do in the industry.” 

Fashion Design major Giorgia Dellis is one of Cantada’s apparel students and presented a collection based

Photo by Rachel Wagner

upon Rococo architecture and its pastel aesthetic titled “Just A Reviere.” Some of the pieces Dellis showed were a white and gold circle skirt dress, a pastel pink dress with puff sleeves and a sweetheart neckline, a strapless empire blue dress and a lavender bodysuit with a mirror on it. Each piece was tied together with gold hardware, including gold belts.

“It was a big undertaking to do, but with the help of my peers and my professor, we all worked together,” said Dellis. “I knew [Rococo] is what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know exactly how to do it or how to go about it. So, I talked with my friends, and we all narrowed it down. I showed them my sketches, and they told me to keep this or change that. It was a lot of peer review. It’s a really good environment that we’ve got going on here.” 

Akouri is a sophomore Fashion Design major who showed a collection titled “Le Beirut.” The collection

Photo by Rachel Wagner

centered around pre-war and pre-industrialization 1970s Lebanon. Every piece was hand-crocheted by Akori and featured dresses and two-piece sets in various patterns of red, mustard yellow, blue and green. 

“In October, my grandfather passed away and him and I were very, very close. I wanted to make something that represented him and the things that he loved,” Akori said. “He loved Lebanon. I crocheted everything not only because it’s what I enjoy and it’s my niche, but also because [my grandfather] loved that I did it. If everybody, my aunts and uncles, were at my house, he would notice everybody on their phones but me because I was sitting there crocheting. And he would make it a point that ‘she’s better than all of us, she’s actually doing something.’” 

Akouri hopes to one day sell her own crocheted outfits, something she says is a lost art.  

“This [show] help me in the future because now I know how a fashion show works,” Akouri said. “This is on a much smaller level, but now I know who I would need to get involved. I’ve even thought about renting out spaces and doing my own thing if I wanted to eventually. It definitely sparked a couple of interests.”

The collection was a six-month-long labor of love as everything was hand-designed and created. For some students, it was a great opportunity to start moving toward their futures. 

“This collection definitely helps pad out the portfolio because we have to do everything: the illustrations, flat drawings of the garments, pattern cards,” said Dellis. There is so much that goes into it besides just the garment itself. I learned a lot about building a collection from this class and also going out there and putting yourself in a situation where you have to show your work off in front of everybody. It is super nerve-racking, but we all want to see each other succeed.” 

For more information on the Fashion Studies Department, their website can be found here.

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