They’ve Got the Look
Even when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down campus, Jefferson fashion design professor Katie Casano knew her students would adjust to the curriculum and still excel in the new remote learning setup.
“Working with the collection students on their capstones with the backdrop of this global crisis was one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional life,” Casano shares. “They showed up every day and got down to the business of designing their collections just like they always have: with creativity, focus and an unstoppable drive.”
Jefferson fashion design students traditionally present their work in an end-of-the-year show attended by over 1,000 prospective and current students, family members, industry leaders, media, fashionistas, influencers, and Jefferson faculty, staff and trustees.
The University’s Fashion Industry Association—comprised of fashion design and fashion merchandising and management students—produces the event and plans every aspect of the program, including the model fittings, run of show and backstage dressings.
The pandemic forced the cancelation of Jefferson’s much-celebrated annual fashion show planned for April 30 at the Moulin at Sherman Mills, and of course, countless other fashion events around the world, from Paris to Milan to New York City.
To ensure students’ work still would be widely displayed, the fashion faculty and staff developed a special “lookbook” for the collections of 31 fashion design seniors. The 76-page piece goes beyond a typical program, sharing the students’ background and inspirations, in addition to their designs.
“We had to adapt,” says Darcy Marcantonio, the fashion design professor who ran point on the lookbook with Nicole Murphy, fashion design program coordinator. “Instead of just 30 seconds on the runway, this new platform puts their designs out there for an infinite number of moments—moments to share with friends, family and industry. It’s a silver lining.”
Students took inspiration from diverse areas for their looks, ranging from Joan of Arc and anxiety disorders to 1920s Harlem and polluted waters. Many fashion students, including recent grad Amanda Ebeling, also collaborated with the textile design program to develop their pieces.
In the fall, Ebeling met textile students Ana Odiot and Logan Connelly and they instantly clicked.
“I really wanted custom fabrics,” she says. “They really enjoyed my work, and I enjoyed theirs. It was meant to be.”
Instead of just 30 seconds on the runway, this new platform puts their designs out there for an infinite number of moments—moments to share with friends, family and industry. It’s a silver lining.
—Darcy Marcantonio, fashion design professor
Odiot’s jacquard and Connelly’s knit helped Ebeling to bring her “Death by Wave” collection to life. Inspired by two pieces of art—Katsushika Hokusai’s “Under the Wave Off Kanagawa” and Yayoi Kusama’s “The Pacific Ocean”—the collection explores the fear and anxiety experienced when a tsunami crashes ashore and consumes everything in its path.
Recent fashion grad Ally Laskowski also worked with textile design for her “Inflorescence Untamed.” Human communication through the language of flowers inspired her collection, which is the embodiment of the natural, feminine nature of bold, modern floral arrangements.
“A collaboration was necessary to get my full vision across,” says Laskowski, who paired with Olivia Manning on the print textile. “She totally knew what I was going for, and she blew my mind. It shows the freeness of floral arrangements and gives a sense of fun for evening gowns.”
Later this year, Laskowski will move to Columbus, Ohio, to start work as an assistant technical designer at Abercrombie and Fitch. She’ll be joined by fellow fashion grad Carly McAndrew, who recently accepted a job as an assistant designer with the company.
McAndrew served as co-president of Jefferson’s Fashion Industry Association with fashion merchandising and management student Nicholette Santilla. The two started planning for the fashion show in October, and even though their work didn’t come to fruition, McAndrew says she still gained valuable real-world skills on how to produce the major event.
“It was a little bit of letdown, but we understand it was completely necessary to cancel the show,” she says. “I appreciate that Jefferson created the lookbook for us.”
McAndrew’s study-away experience in Rome last spring fueled her collection “Tera,” named for Lepidoptera, the order of insects that includes butterflies.
“The passage of a butterfly from cocoon to migration is a metaphor for an individual’s journey while traveling,” she explains.
Fashion professor Casano beams with pride when talking about the thoughtfulness and care all the students demonstrated with their collections.
“I truly believe they produced exceptional work despite, or perhaps in part because, having to overcome this crisis,” she says. “I will never forget this group or the way they channeled their creativity and still succeeded in spite of all of the obstacles.”