Watch: The 2024 Fashion Design Film

The annual fashion-design event took on special significance with a class that weathered the COVID-19 pandemic.

On May 4, the University celebrated the creations of its fashion-design students in the days leading to Commencement with a Fashion Film and Runway show at the Gallagher Center.

This year’s event took on special significance since the class of 17 graduating seniors started their studies in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. These rising stars of fashion debuted their latest collections live on the runway with an immersive cinematic, documentary-style fashion film experience.

“This cohort of students is using design as a catalyst for change in societal ecosystems. They focus on sustainable fashion, eco-friendly design and human-centered design, striving to make fashion inclusive for all,” says program director Farai Simoyi. “These emerging designers are ones to watch, poised to become the fashion leaders of tomorrow thanks to their innovative approach and a comprehensive education at Thomas Jefferson University.”

2024 Fashion Film and Runway Show
The graduating fashion-design program seniors take a spin on the catwalk at the end of the 2024 Fashion Film and Runway Show. (Photos by Steve Belkowitz)

Receiving the Jefferson Spirit of Design Award at the event was Mike Leonard, the academic dean of the School of Design and Engineering who—having joined what was then the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science as an adjunct professor in industrial design 27 years ago—is retiring after this academic year.

Ronald Kander, executive dean of the Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce, praised Leonard as an outstanding educator and “model servant-leader.”

2024 Fashion Film and Runway Show
At the end of the Fashion Film and Runway Show, faculty members, including program director Farai Simoyi and associate professor Carly Kusy (left and middle) presented awards to some of the graduating seniors.

“He possesses an eclectic mix of skills, abilities and knowledge necessary to effectively lead a school with such an eclectic mix of degree programs, faculty, staff and students,” Kander says. “We will truly miss Mike’s sage advice and dry sense of humor in our Kanbar College Leadership Team meetings.”

You can see the fashion-film series—which is an eye-opening exploration of fashion as a medium for self-expression, empathy and empowerment—below and via this link.

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Design and Style