They may be students, but that didn’t stop the design students of the School of Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) from using their chance at Fashion Week to grab their moment in front of a crowd of fashion industry insiders like Cameron Silver and Robbie Myers. In a runway show, exclusively featuring the work of design students, Elle’s Fashion | Next show, now in its fourth season, partnered with the SAIC to support the vision and talent of next generation designers.
Each student presented a look to be judged by a notable fashion insider panel including Ashley Madekwe, Coco Rocha, Louise Roe, Pamela Love, Charlotte Ronson, Anne Slowey, and Joe Zee, among others. At stake was the Elle Fashion | Next Design grand prize of $25,000 and the Maybelline New York Fashion | Next Design grant to a finalist.
The looks were ambitious and far-reaching. In a video shown before the presentation, the students explained their visions which ranged from an Invasion of the Bodysnatchers-themed collection, accented by handmade fuzzy parasites to nomadic designs, influenced by the experience of commuting by car to high school. The students weren’t afraid to experiment with fabrics and textures, riffing with PVC, metallics, velvets, and upholstery-inspired textures.
In the end, the winners were finalist Savannah Cipriano, who showcased a red vinyl skirt with fluttering petal cutout details and a short sleeve PVC top, and Carlie Hougen’s Bodysnatcher-inspired collection, which won the grand prize with a very covetable red and black buffalo plaid blanket overcoat. Hougen wasn’t on hand to accept her prize because, as Myers informed the audience, she was already at work in TopShop London, where she, like the other students, was already working to become a Fashion Next.