For more than 35 years, the Mom’s Weekend Fashion Show has been an annual tradition at Washington State University. Produced by students in the Department of Apparel, Merchandising, Design, and Textiles (AMDT), the event highlights the work of graduating seniors and promising juniors.
This year’s show has been canceled due to the need for social distancing to stop COVID-19, but students in the department are finding new ways to share their fashion and apparel designs with the world.
“Senior designers look forward to this fashion show,” said Shanna Hiscock, academic and internship coordinator for AMDT. “It’s their big reveal as a designer before they go into the industry.”
WSU canceled all in-person Mom’s Weekend festivities scheduled for early April in accordance with guidance to limit large gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic
In lieu of a large fashion show with lights and crowds at Beasley Coliseum, senior e-portfolios will instead be showcased online.
AMDT is considering a fall show for senior collections. This conceptual fashion show would not be held at Beasley Coliseum, but would instead be smaller, for family and friends. Another option being explored is having the 2020 seniors back to be part of the 2021 fashion show.
For now, everyone is focused on the online collections.
Senior Janke said the goal of the e-portfolio will be to showcase the designs from early concepts to evolved design.
“The idea behind a portfolio like this would be, not only just to show a final product, but to really help show our thought processes behind it,” he said.
Janke’s line features a color palette of blacks, whites, and bright blues, with athletic menswear pieces incorporating LED lights and magnets, inspired by science fiction movies like Blade Runner and Tron.
Senior designers are doing their best to finish their final projects at home, but some, like Hanna Stark, are missing a crucial element – their models.
“That’s the hemming of the dresses, making sure they fit, putting the closures in – those are all very model specific,” she said.
Stark’s line of evening wear couture dresses is called New Tide, with nautical influences like ropes, pearls, and gold, inspired by her upbringing on boats around the San Juan Islands near Bellingham.
Stark nearly finished her line before spring break, aside from her detail work, such as hemming.
“I had a few pictures from my final fitting,” said Stark, remarking that those pictures would go up on the website.
‘Stay at home’ and ‘shelter in place’ orders are making it difficult for senior designers to showcase their work elsewhere.
“I am still struggling to find places I can show my ideas,” said senior Sara Liddy. Her collection is called Sprezzatura, an Italian term for effortless elegance. Inspired by her trip abroad to Florence, Italy during her freshman year, her collection embodies hues of deep reds and dark corals—reflections of Italy’s cobblestone sidewalks.
Despite the setbacks, Liddy said she is definitely going to finish her collection.
“If I can find a place to show it in Portland, I really want to be able to do that,” she said
One of the important aspects of the fashion show is judging. The department plans on selecting several awards this year, once judges have a chance to view the e-portfolios.
“We are going to keep that,” Hiscock said. “It’s all being done virtually right now.”
After students submit their e-portfolios, judging will commence the week of April 20. E-portfolios will be published to the website by the week of April 27.
“We want to get everything posted before the semester ends,” Hiscock said.
Amid the struggles, Hiscock said COVID-19 has led to creative solutions for events and outreach that the department hasn’t done before.
“We’ve never showcased these garments or e-portfolios virtually online in prior shows,” Hiscock said. “That is something that we can now start doing.”
An enhanced online presence could help students better connect their collections to industry, she added.
“That could be the silver lining,” Hiscock said. “We can strengthen the link between industry and our senior designers.”
Senior e-portfolios will be posted the week of April 27th and will be available to view at wsuamdtfashionshow.squarespace.com.