A sneak peak at senior fashion students’ capstone projects from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP) reveal a sample of the diverse, artful designs that will premiere at the annual DAAP Fashion Show.
Every senior studying fashion at DAAP participates in the iconic event, which is celebrating its 70th runway show on April 28 at the MegaCorp Pavilion. Each student developed a collection of designs that includes three to five garments that the 48 seniors have been evolving since summer 2022.
“This isn't just, I want to make black dresses. This is a thesis,” says Laurie Wilson, associate director of student affairs at DAAP. “So there's inspiration behind it, there's research. And they come through with a concept that they want to convey in their work to the public.”
A small sample of the work shows how distinctively style can be interpreted and presented. From zero waste concepts – which requires a specific pattern-making technique that spares no material – to themes that honor the artists’ family or culture, an array of tastes and talent will be showcased.
“I’d been in the fashion industry for years before I came here,” says Wilson. “I was so emotionally moved when I saw the collections the first year. I thought, this is pure creativity from the heart. It's so raw and original. And it's really too bad that we can't have this kind of amazing freshness in the day to day fashion world. I think that's what makes it so special.”
Albert Johnson’s final collection of his DAAP studies is titled “My Grass is Blue,” and it portrays his family heritage and repurposes vintage fabric and buttons. A standout detail Johnson incorporated into his designs is a simple but unique addition that makes it unlike any other. Sewn over shirt pockets are Kentucky-shaped pocket flaps, which complements the minimalist design and embraces his family history.
Wilson said that Grayson Thornberry is a standout designer from this years’ graduating class who specializes in menswear. Thornberry’s collection will hit the runway featuring his classic men’s style with one garment created out of men’s ties. Thornberry deconstructed tie fabric and blanket stitched it back together, Wilson says.
“[Grayson] has this personal Ralph Lauren aesthetic, like the young American classic man,” Wilson says. “And he always looks like he just stepped out of a photo shoot. He’s been so true to his design aesthetic throughout his entire process. And so his collection is all classic menswear.”
This year’s fashion show is taking place at MegaCorp Pavilion, a huge venue that Wilson thinks is fitting for a 70th anniversary celebration. She says DAAP will not only infiltrate the runway, the show will make use of the acoustics and wall space as well.
“One beautiful thing from a show production standpoint is, we have major lighting, sound, audio, visual elements, and with most other venues you have to bring in your staging, or your flooring, your chairs and all of that,” Wilson says. “And in this venue, it's all there. It's an amazing sound system and great music is part of what the show is all about.”
A live DJ will take charge of the atmosphere, with mixes the students chose to accompany their work. Wilson’s only stipulation for the music was that it couldn’t be a tune visitors could hear on the radio.
“It's the choice of the seniors for their particular songs that go along with their collections, so we have a lot of great, eclectic music that comes about with the show,” she says.
The event was designed to feel like a major fashion event similar to New York Fashion Week. It’s an experience and a culmination of talent and creativity that’s been emerging in these DAAP seniors during five years of studying. Wilson says collages of designs, sketches and completed looks will also decorate the venue throughout.
Select seniors were featured on DAAP’s social media, where some of their final looks were shared along with the process of creating and researching, similar to what will be displayed during the event. Madeline Gaeta’s sketches of hand-woven garments are just as impressive as their tangible counterparts. Gaeta’s designs capture her model’s silhouettes elegantly and some sport sewn-in words and phrases.
Wilson said she’s honored to be part of the 70th DAAP Fashion Show and can’t wait to see what the students do next. She says DAAP fashion students go on to find their place in all areas of the fashion industry and the show will be a taste of what their future holds.
“People can expect to be transported to some place outside of your standard Friday night in Cincinnati,” Wilson says. “It definitely is something that they would experience in a major fashion market. And I think it’s even more special because it's such young, raw talent in their collections. It is pure creativity.”
The event is selling out fast, though standing-room tickets are still available here.
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