DIY Couture and Community: Fashion Schau Unites Design and Service

On February 24, the Knowlton Hall Center Space was transformed into a showcase of design talent and inspired DIY couture as part of SERVitecture's 6th Annual Fashion Schau. Twenty-eight models wore pieces designed and created by Ohio State University students based loosely on the theme of Multiply, allowing a sense of play and experimentation in the use of materials and tailoring techniques. The result was a sartorial showcase of contrasting textures, patchworks and bold embellishments for the standing-room only—and highly enthusiastic—crowd.

The 2017 Schau raised more than $2,000 for Dress for Success Columbus, a non-profit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and career development tools. 

While the majority of designers represented the undergraduate and graduate ranks of the architecture program at the Knowlton School, other students from such diverse majors as nursing, materials science, biology, marketing and environmental engineering also participated. Taylor Clune, President of SERVitecture, stated: "Architecture is a discipline that encompasses many perspectives, so it makes sense to bring in people with different backgrounds. We welcome any student with a general interest in design." The wide range of disciplines accounted for an equally diverse use of fabrics, modules and motifs that adorned the runway models. Materials used to craft the garments included K-Cups, glow sticks, pennies, packing materials and, for one dress, eight years’ worth of gum wrappers.

Emory Heiselt, an architecture major, made her dress from over two thousand crocheted trash bags. Megan Pettner used an everyday snack, the Cheez-It, as a module for her design, weaving the morsels together with string to create a fabric and, going further, experimenting with different flavors of Cheez-Its to create a fade from orange to white. Designer Shelby Wright created a patchwork of photographs of people who have immigrated to the United States. "The idea behind the dress is to celebrate the diversity of the U.S. and showcase our history as a country of immigrants." He added, "They make up the fabric of our country like the fabric of the dress." Materials science major Shoko Kanemoto employed the concept of the Pythagoras tree to create a pattern of squares connected together as a plane fractal. She explained her concept as an attempt "to repurpose the scraps and perishable materials that result from the engineering labs, and incorporate these materials into the patterns on the dress."

Kate Lubbers, a first-year student majoring in architecture with a Spanish minor, was the winner of the Golden T-Square, the honor awarded by the jurors for the best design. Lubbers, who created and modeled her dress, commented that her design "is about the multiplicity and growth of 4-part braids." She explained, "The braids start out tight on the top then expand throughout the skirt. The braids are made out of newspaper that I cut into strands then twist to make little ropes that I then weave together.” Lubbers indicated the effort was time-consuming as the dress “took a month of long nights and balancing acts between working on it and working on school projects, but it was well worth it for the experience of walking down that runway.”

The other awarded designers were:

2nd Place | Designers: Kayla Eland + Bethany Roman - Model: Nadia Voynova

3rd Place | Designer: Asya Shine - Model: Myra Parsons-Jones

People's Choice | Designer: Emoree Heiselt - Model: Victoria Kinzel.

In his second year of participation in the Fashion Schau, Shelby Wright once again collaborated with models Serena Brewer and Fontyne Pagan, each a student in their senior year at the Knowlton School. "The Fashion Schau is a great opportunity for us to apply our knowledge of design outside of studio. It's always fun and challenging to work with such a different medium and be able to collaborate with friends from other studios." In speaking of the interest and enthusiasm the Fashion Schau generates, Wright added, "We love how the event connects the Knowlton community and brings us together for a good cause." Only a freshman, Lubbers added, “I hope to participate in the Schau all four years I go here and I would encourage everyone to submit a design, as well.” 

Housed in the Knowlton School, SERVitecture is a student organization that promotes volunteerism among Ohio State students, regardless of academic major. In its tenth year of providing students with volunteer opportunities, SERVitecture will sponsor a spring break service trip this month to Philadelphia for a Habitat for Humanity project. SERVitecture also sponsor's Service Saturday, a once-a-month volunteer opportunity at a local food pantry or Habitat for Humanity Restore location.