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Sartorial Success at the Schau

“I am basically assembling the pieces into a cohesive dress using Velcro, superglue and tape. Lots and lots of tape,” explained Dani Latif, a senior architecture student, an hour before the runway opened at the 2018 SERVitecture Fashion Schau. Latif worked quickly to assemble (and adhere) recycled plotter paper folded into rigid geometric patterns onto his model, Vera Betancourt, also a senior in the architecture program.

The 7th Annual Fashion Schau topped last year’s gate by raising $2,400 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.

Eschewing traditional tailoring and stitchery, designers assembled unconventional materials into outfits that played off tropes of construction in a nod to this year’s theme of “[De]Construct.” Articulating tools-of-the-trade handicraft (X-Acto knives, hot glue guns and lasers) with recycled and repurposed materials, the 27 design entries referenced the idiosyncratic and kitschy in a spirited showcase. Ruffled pinafores, fringed jumpsuits and pleated tiers of tulle expressed an exuberant palette of textures and form.

Deconstructing materials to constituent parts to disclose hidden, internal orders signified many of the designs. Senior architecture student Aleah Westfall used a duct tape dress form to assemble parts - hard drive disks, computer wires, memory boards - from deconstructed computers. Poetry and fiction pages, as well as photographs found in articles of The New Yorker, were attached to a bubble wrap skirt by first year city and regional planning student Genevieve Wagner, recalling the decor of her adolescent bedroom.   

Other designs emphasized fabrication to accentuate a constructivist aesthetic. The design team of Taylor Smith, Becca Schalip and Rachel Seifert used a numbering system to organize triangular and rectangular pieces made from laser-cut, repurposed chipboard. Senior architecture student Ryan Rudd paid homage to human-powered flight with an expanding wooden wing-set made from bolted and wired paint stir sticks, an enterprise conducted entirely in the school’s fabrication lab.

“This design team masterfully created a relationship between their two outfits. The materiality in the two dresses juxtaposes the rigid top to the incredibly elegant diaphanous bottom,” stated juror and Professor of Architecture Jacquelyn Gargus as she announced the winning design. Kelsey Swarthout, Rachel Ghindea and Sarah Cronin, all seniors majoring in architecture, received the Golden T-Square, the Fashion Schau’s top honor. The two dresses, modeled by Swarthout and Ghindea, also won the People’s Choice award. Their garments played off the Schau’s theme by using materials from their structure’s class final assignment: destroyed bridges. The designers wove rope through the pieces to suggest a tensile cable holding together the broken trusses to make them structural again. “We wanted to contrast this hard, structural aesthetic with something softer,” commented Cronin. “What looks like tulle in our garments is made up of produce bags. We manipulated each bag to make them appear pleated, creating an opaque shade of lavender when overlaid.”

The other awarded designers were:

2nd Place | Designers: Taylor Smith + Becca Schalip + Rachel Seifert - Model: Emily Nelson

3rd Place | Designer: Kristen Goodge - Model: Katarina Goodge

Honorable Mentions | Designer: Ryan Rudd – Model: Ryan Rudd / & / Designers: Bri Corcino + Kailey Devereaux - Model: Kailey Devereaux / & / Designer: Megan Pettner - Model: Becca Schalip

People's Choice | Designers: Kelsey Swarthout + Rachel Ghindea + Sarah Cronin - Modesl: Kelsey Swarthout + Rachel Ghindea.

Section Head Award | Designers: Andrew King + Kristen Perng + Sofia Kuspan – Model: Kristen Perng

"This year's event was so much fun,” commented SERVitecture President Marty Koelsch. “There were so many outstanding designs and the amount of money we raised for Dress for Success Columbus is absolutely incredible. I have loved watching this event grow over the last four years and I am excited for its future."

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 to Charleston, SC for a Habitat for Humanity project. SERVitecture also sponsors Service Saturday, a once-a-month volunteer opportunity at a local food pantry or Habitat for Humanity Restore location.