May 19, 2023 | ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT | By Will Garrett
This year’s spring CC fashion show was brief yet full of content, with trending materials of yarn and sewed fabrics. That night, all designers were able to showcase their work in under 45 minutes, with over 100 different pieces paraded across the floor, devouring the audience one-by-one, like Curious George munching chocolates off a conveyor belt.
It was intimate on the main floor, inspiring on the runway, and overflowing around the edges with drunk and happy students. While there was very minimal seating, it didn’t stop an extra hundred people from clumping together both outside the window walls of the hall and inside down the Fine Arts Center stairs beside the runway.
A significant portion of the audience had vacantly staggered inside just minutes before the scheduled start time in full flared costumes, aggressive smiles of pure joy: this was the contagious effect of the fun run. Although possibly delaying the fashion show, these characters (plus other boozers that refrained from wearing the makeup of a psychedelic traffic cone) made for great people watching.
The center stage was set up with about 100 chairs, one side running parallel to the runway, about three to four columns wide, while the other side faced the stage, two to three rows deep. I chose the horizontal side so that I could watch the models walk left to right, while sitting behind a pillar for protection. Since the show started fifteen minutes late, the crowd had ample time to talk to their friends, or even stare at more stationary forms of psychedelic art that were canvassed and hung up on display in the hall.
The show commenced with excited applause as the show’s organizer, Nathalie San Fratello ’25, stood next to four other students on the organizing team, and gave a warm welcome to the crowd. Then it was off to the races, leading with Lillian Fuglsang’s collection of pieces that centered on airbrush paint, some of her pieces using mystical combinations of purple and black. The intimate runway was immediately filled with models in celestial designs, each briefly stopping at the beginning, middle, and end of the runway, so as to strike a quick pose and allow the clothes to be absorbed by the crowd.
The walk was structured so that three models could be on the floor at once, simultaneously posing at positions in 20-25 foot increments. Since it was only my second fashion show, seeing three different looks at a time on stage had a very stimulating effect for myself as an audience member. While wildly entertaining, I was not conditioned to take notes as furiously as I was. The show continued like clockwork in this form throughout the works of all 32 designers.
Complimenting the high-spirited crowd, many of the models were wildly expressive in their walks. During the exhibition of the fourth designer’s collection, a model actually threw pink paper rose petals as they made their way up the stage, then finally stopped to take off their pink balaclava of yarn, releasing a climactic array of petals hidden on top of their head (unclear whether these came with the outfit).
Much of the show was sprinkled with similar unexpected outbursts and poses, such as hardy bicep flexion, a catlike lick of the entire surface area of a forearm, and a slow waltzing (I’ll get to that later). I quickly learned that the fashion show was a place where students could promote their friends’ hard work while making liberating gestures and being applauded like Olympians.
It would have been hard to remember all of the different outfits that were shepherded along the catwalk (literally) at such exhilarating concurrency, but this is where the online program proved to be immensely useful. Clara Mizock ’25 designed an online program providing audience members with the ability to learn about the designers. Slits of paper were handed out to the audience with QR codes that took the user to a homepage with three tabs, one of the tabs showing a list of all the designers with a profile picture and their names, a blurb about their personal self and another about their works, concluding with two pictures of their projects.
During an interview with San Fratello, I was surprised to hear that the availability of both materials and creative spaces at Colorado College are scarce. San Fratello described the Arts and Crafts room in the Worner basement as only open to the small population of students that are art majors, or those that are familiar with Rebecca Parker, director of Arts and Crafts, or herself.
Additionally, the designers weren’t granted access to the room until two weeks prior to the event and were allocated short time span of 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. each day. These unfortunate circumstances were only harmed by the fact that the majority of the fabrics found in the Arts and Crafts center are old leftovers from classes such as stuffed animal making.
With 14 different presented pieces at this year’s fashion show, San Fratello has been sewing since eighth grade, organizing fashion events since high school, and had already hosted her first fashion show before graduation. She is an extrovert and well-versed networker, regularly working with local contemporaries in both Colorado Springs and her hometown. Her biggest goal in organizing the fashion show was to create a networking space for designers that grows and empowers the fashion community.
There was a general wish for a way to have better incorporated more seating and a wider runway at this event. Notably compact, on the contrary however, it created a far better focus on the runway than it did last year. In reflecting back on the 2022 show held in Cornerstone Arts Center, there was a runway of elongated ramps stretching high above the amphitheater.
While Cornerstone’s venue was jaw dropping, this year’s show in the Fine Arts Center was arguably more polished and thorough, as the CC mobile arts and faculty stepped in this year to help construct a more professional show.
San Fratello shared that next year she will attempt to organize the catwalk to run through the FAC courtyard as well, in order to harbor a more spacious environment, while still appreciating the casual energy of this year’s crowd.
The looseness of the crowd mixed with the timeliness and punctuality of the walks helped develop the colorful themes of summer wear. With examples of layered skirts, belt bags, yarn hats, a cigarette under the ear of a green cap, puffballs, blown kisses, and a ziploc bag full of paper goodies, the models were all fully capable of flaunting their designer’s products with experimental style. For the show’s finale, beloved Bon Appetit employee Yun Park ate up the crowd with a playfully slow-paced walk, swaying and dancing and waving as the crowd in the courtyard performed a standing ovation.
Yun was participating in her traditional Korean dress, a hanbok, not representing any of the designers, but happy to share the moment with all the students. Afterwards, all of the models and designers formed an impressively long line and walked together, turning at the edge of the runway and wrapping up the show under rambunctious applause.