Wearable Sculpture: 2019 Fashion Schau Wows!

In the improvisational space between casual-kitschy and idiosyncratic-chic, a decidedly avant-garde aesthetic amplified a highly successful Fashion Schau runway with designs apropos of the habiliments of a futuristic cocktail party.      

Twenty-eight student models wore pieces designed and created by Ohio State University students based on the theme of SCULPTURE, which encouraged distinct or abstract three-dimensional forms created by unique sculpting techniques. Students from Accounting, Art, Chemical Enigeering and Biology added to the innovation of designs that featured the creations of the Knowlton School's architecture, landscape architecture and city and regional planning students. 

Now in its eighth year, SERVitecture’s Fashion Schau topped last year’s gate by raising over $2,000 for Dress for Success Columbus, the local chapter of a national non-profit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and career development tools.

A hallmark of the Fashion Schau is the creation of wearable designs by recycling and repurposing unconventional or sustainable materials and objects. Garment material in this year’s schau ran the gamut from decks of playing cards, wire hangers, and window blinds to bubble wrap, packing peanuts and plastic shopping bags. These materials found couturial expression in richly ornamented crinoline skirts, faux taffeta and tulle ruffles, and tiered dresses with voluminous skirts that eschewed subtlety and celebrated bold embellishments that shimmered and sparkled.  

Evincing the grandeur of space-age formalwear, designers Tyler Young and Hermon Habte utilized Knowlton School 3D printers to create a collection of interlocking chain-mail swatches that were assembled into a fitted garment. In a world/otherworldly allegorical yarn, Kirsten Goodge represented Heaven, Purgatory, Hell and Earth in her four models’ flourishes of reused plotter paper, cans, plastic bags and foam scraps. Carrick Reider’s dress utilized dozens of miniature origami carnations made from emergency blankets that cascaded from model’s Anisah Elsayed-Awad’s empire waist.

“This dress just blew us away. Rethinking what a dress is into this fluff of socks takes it to a level we’ve never seen before,” stated eight-time juror and Professor of Architecture Jacquelyn Gargus as she announced the winning design. “We admired how the dress moves with the body and how it becomes a real sculpture.” Courtney Masters and Kristen Perng, juniors majoring in architecture, received the Golden T-Square, the Fashion Schau’s top honor. The dress, modeled by Perng, drew its inspiration from the work of Yayoi Kusama whose oeuvre often reflects issues of female struggle, sexuality and mental health.

Designers Masters and Perng began with recycled materials such as water bottles, aluminum cans and plastic bags, all of which, except for the plastic bags, were collected from trash cans inside Knowlton Hall. The designers commented: “In an attempt to mimic Kusama’s style, we stuffed men’s tube socks with these items. The stuffed socks were then sewn into a sweater. We finished the piece with metallic red spray paint in an effort to physically solidify and aesthetically unify the dress.”

The awarded designers were:

1st Place | Designers: Courtney Masters + Kristen Perng - Model: Kristen Perng

2nd Place | Designers: Myra Parsons-Jones + Spencer Huggins - Model: Myra Parsons-Jones

3rd Place | Designer: Autumn Harvey + Emma McMonigal - Model: Lily Harvey

People's Choice | Designers: Taylor Smith + Becca Schalip + Rachel Seifert - Models: Emily Nelson + David Tucker

Housed in the Knowlton School, SERVitecture is a student organization that promotes volunteerism among Ohio State students, regardless of academic major. In its eleventh year of providing students with volunteer opportunities, SERVitecture sponsors spring break service trips for Habitat for Humanity projects in addition to the annual Fashion Schau.