Text and photos by Lauren Gantner
After being cooped up for months in the depths of their St. Paul sewing studios, last Saturday the senior fashion designers at the University of Minnesota brought each of their collections to Rapson Hall on the University of Minnesota campus to show off the results of their efforts. The 18 design students flaunted all their finished work, from menswear to lingerie to Gaga-esque dresses, in front of a big crowd of family, friends, fellow students and local fashion press.
The show was inspired by the theme "Distortion," and each of the 18 students offered their unique design perspectives on the theme over the course of an hour and a half runway event, emceed by local fashion, arts and culture icon Robyne Robinson.
Right off the bat, Elise Diebel’s '60s inspired, boldly-colored collection caught our eye. The funky-fun mix of high-wasted pants and skirts paired with neon patterned bandeau tops and vests strategically placed very geometric patterns next to organic fabrics that were both hand-printed and hand-dyed bright fuchsias, neon pinks and blaze yellows. The summery color palette and flirty cuts were the perfect start to the show and anecdote to our winter blahs.
Diebel’s psychedelic looks were followed by a collection of comfy and wearable outfits by Kathryn Sterner. Her flowy onesies and high-wasted patterned shorts, accentuated by pretty gold buttons, are what we hope to see in our summer wardrobe. At the same time, her chic and shiny dresses topped with baggy jackets seemed like the perfect fit for fall. Altogether, Sterner hit the target with her versatile, multi-seasonal looks that are sure to sell at local shops like Cliché or Picky Girl. (We especially loved the grey button-up dress Sterner sported as line left the runway.)
Other highlights included Laura Henslin, who took the cake with her set of cutesy, playful rompers in pastel shades, and Heather King, whose elegant chiffon creations and pretty peach color palettes focused on strategic layering and silhouette. Henslin's hand-sewn textures and tiny details were particularly impressive.
Already on the local design circuit for the past couple of years, Niki English had a strong showing, changing the mood from cutesy to dark with her collection of edgy-gothic dresses, coats and pants. Her black-grey line combined sharp lines and dramatic cuts that left us wanting more. She used a mix of fabrics and textiles to create some super unique lines and silhouettes – whether they were boxy coats or square hips. The dramatic, statement pieces were a good mix of shock and chic, creating many looks that we’d love to wear.
Jessica St. George’s line hit the runway soon after with a set of girly J. Crew/Loft-esque looks with a hint of sparkle. Though it was a look we’ve seen before, she really excelled in her execution of her wearable cropped pants and pleated shorts, topped with long sleeves and sweaters with subtle dashes of sequins. Her bohemian style and warm designs seemed like a good everyday look for women.
From Native-inspired collections to boho baggy creations, it is easy to see that some of these up and coming designers will definitely be making their way in the fashion world in a few years. And what can we say? - We can’t wait to get our hands on these looks at many of our local boutiques and shops!