Courtesy of MODE Fashion Group
On June 20, 2019, humanity lined the gradient runway of Virgil Abloh’s debut spring/summer collection for Louis Vuitton. Abloh, the charismatic designer, witnessed his own inconceivable vision, that some kid, who once printed tee shirts in Chicago, born of Ghanian immigrant parents, could one day be the artistic director for one of the world’s most historical and influential luxury fashion houses.
On an Instagram post, the caption read, “You can do it too…”
Seattle Pacific University’s fashion club, MODE Fashion Group, hosted its annual fashion show on Saturday, May 8, 2022. The theme was Protagonist, and it captured the idea that one shapes their own story, a story told through design and style.
But after the vision, there is the mission.
On Saturday, May 7th, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m, the MODE team worked tirelessly to execute photoshoots for all ten of their stylists and designers.
Senior apparel merchandising major Chloe Wozniak is president of MODE and worked on-site to execute the fashion show’s photoshoot.
“Right now, we’re in Peterson 101. This is the sewing lab, where all the magic happens. We’re currently surrounded by so many sewing machines, forms [and] muslin fittings on forms. This is the place where a lot of students come to finish all of their assignments, projects [and] a lot of classes are held here.”
Running in and out of the lab, models, photographers, designers, and stylists worked under a crunch. It is a whirlwind that came after the long haul of the autumn and winter quarter.
Dr. Jaeil Lee is a professor of apparel design and merchandising and is the chair of the program. As an advisor of the club, Lee has helped students throughout the year-long process.
“We started from the fall,” said Lee. “They start from their own ideas and mood board… and then they move into the details. And then they did the designing, and they drew some illustrations and then to the actual garment making and styling.”
The results were stunning. Tiffany Loop set the backdrop for the club’s haute couture, showing that, at its core, fashion is art. But while the designers and stylists would agree, the event also set a strong emphasis on professionalism.
Dr. Gwia Kim is an assistant professor of apparel design and merchandising and is also an advisor for the club. She sees the fashion show as a workplace expectation.
“The purpose is to get the job. So, they are well prepared to be a real professional in the industry,” said Kim. “We allow for the students to have a show when they are a junior or senior. The reason is they should be serious enough. They know how the industry is and they know how to sew or allocate garments for a business.”
Part of the show’s theme is to choose a clothing brand and work as if the styling or designs develop the ethos and design philosophy of their chosen label. It demands students to think and operate pragmatically.
Due to scheduling conflicts, this year’s production is not a live catwalk, but a digital portfolio. Anticipated to be on a website, it will allow audiences to see the photos from any location, and it equips designers and stylists with work easy to both disseminate and present.
Senior apparel merchandising major Caila Armor-Brown is a designer for the show. After graduation, she plans on moving to Los Angeles to pursue a bridal styling career, hoping that this might become a platform for celebrity styling.
“Basically, the fashion mode club asked me to think of a brand I would like to work for, so I thought Savage x Fenty. It’s by Rihana. She’s very inspirational, and I love to design lingerie and loungewear,” said Armor-Brown. “I designed five looks, eight garments, and I’m super happy with how it came out.”
Armor-Brown is just one of ten designers and stylists preparing for the show. But their hard work is nearly done. The photo shoot was a success, and the final product is on its way.
“I’m really hoping that it will be out within the next couple of weeks. We’re hoping for a one-week turnaround time for edited photos, but it’s going to be available on a website,” said Wozniak.
For these talented designers and stylists, this is a debut. It will be an actualized vision of their art and professionalism and will be the first step beyond the atelier of SPU. Excitement builds for next season.
Six months ago, at the age of forty-one, Abloh tragically passed away from cancer. It seemed too soon, but there is still something left. Tagged on brick walls from Paris to Chicago, it is written, “Virgil was here.”
To be “here,” to be a protagonist, and to work on the craft, passion and art of fashion is a blessing. But more than those who do it, those who witness it feel blessed as well. They, the designers and stylists of the world, show us that we can do it too.
“And I’m coming out of college with all of this fresh perspective and all of this time to devote to you, so here I am,” said Wozniak.