Photo: “Evolution” fashion show highlights student work and identity
On Friday, May 12, 19 student designers showcased their original fashion collections on the runway for Cal Poly’s second annual spring fashion show.
This event was put on at the Multi-Activity Center by CP Sustainable Fashion Club (SFC) in collaboration with Fashion and Student Trends (FAST). This year’s theme was “Evolution,” building off the previous year’s theme of “Identity.”
“This year, we wanted a theme that reflected a journey more than a moment in time, or one part of your identity. Evolution felt like more of a journey,” FAST co-president and co-founder Advaitha Bhavanasi said. “We wanted it to mean evolution of nature, identity, art or anything else.”
The theme signifies something uniquely different to each person involved in the show, displayed by the diversity and versatility of each collection and individual look on the runway. Collections ranged across all fashion styles, from streetwear to floor-length gowns to the unconventional, and various mediums — encompassing fiber arts, sewing, beadwork and more.
In experience industry management senior Nicolette Napier’s collection, “That’s so Last Century,” she reflected the transformation of fashion trends over time.
“I was taking old designs and trends from the past and bringing them to the present, modernizing them with modern innovation. You can’t evolve without looking back on the past,” Napier said.
For Bhavanasi, their collection “Last of Childhood” represented their evolution and journey growing up.
“The first look is called ‘Innocence’ and is about my childhood, and the second look is called ‘Girlhood,’ which is about being socialized as a woman. The third one is ‘Unknown’ — when you’re searching for your identity,” Bhavanasi said. “The next one is ‘Follower’ — when you’re following trends — and the fifth one is about discovering your identity. The final look is about adulthood and the somberness that we associate with it.”
Bhavanasi used several different mediums to craft knitted, crocheted and sewn pieces over the course of six months.
Business administration senior and SFC graphic designer Camille Heathcock also implemented several art forms in her designs to illustrate her own interpretation of the show’s theme, which centered around her evolution as a designer and artist.
Heathcock began her design journey by making earrings during quarantine with polymer clay, but she has since experimented with making necklaces and body jewelry, as well as crocheting and knitting.
“For this collection (‘Coalesce’) I really wanted to embody my personal style and all the crafts I’ve done, so I tried to work in as many different mediums that I’ve worked with as possible to make a cohesive look. I have one look that’s all beaded. In another, I worked mostly with chain, and I tried crocheting with it which was an experiment for me,” Heathcock said.
Her third look consisted of a fully fiber-art base adorned with chains and watches. Heathcock described the collective ensemble as eclectic, lively, colorful and unconventional.
The “Coalesce” models — Tristan Thorson, environmental earth and soil science senior Maya Allaire and psychology senior Yazmeen Norwood — all expressed initial hesitation towards walking the runway but wanted to be vessels for Heathcock’s art and the overall cause of the show.
“Camille first asked me to model and my immediate reaction was, ‘That’s so awesome but I could never.’ But then I realized that’s so stupid to think,” Thorson said.
Allaire also expressed how the show was a good test for self-confidence and being able to put yourself out there. Norwood echoed this idea in their own reasoning for modeling.
“I was nervous, but I wanted to be able to bring Camille’s vision to life. It feels nice to be part of something greater — something communal and special and queer,” Norwood said.
Lighting and music changed between each collection to match the designers’ visions and the energy of their collections. “Pyramids” by Frank Ocean played during designer Caitlin Lota’s “love, Caitlin” collection while “Let The Smokers Shine The Coupes” by Pusha T served as the soundtrack for Anh Ngo’s streetwear collection “Adaptation.” Napier chose “Can’t Take My Eyes off You” by Frankie Valli to tie her influences from the past into her modernized designs.
Other song choices include “Desafinado” by Kali Uchis for Jess Vanni’s “Wracked,” “Les” by Childish Gambino for Alexia Gonzales’ “Ascending to Futurity,” “Telephone” by Lady Gaga for Lauren Shirley’s “Plurality of Femininity” and “Playdate” by Melanie Martinez for Jose Garcia’s “Age Is a Fallacy.”
As the show concluded, designers took to the runway while models surrounded the perimeter of the seating area. The hard work and creativity each individual put into the show seemed to be appreciated by the packed-house audience, as the crew received a full standing ovation during their final walk.