Having attended a number of top fashion schools' student fashion shows at least once, I can say confidently that Otis College of Art and Design is in the top one percent in terms of overall production value. Despite flying relatively under the radar, the Los Angeles design school's students put in the work to ensure attendees — which include donors, fellow students, parents, designer mentors and press — are thoroughly entertained. At this year's show on Saturday night, there were videos displayed on massive LED backdrops that look like blockbuster movie trailers, choreographed dance and hula-hoop (!) routines and complex walking patterns that ensured everyone got a good look at the clothes.
Adding to the entertainment value, the show was given a theme — "limitless" — which was then divided into sub-themes set by the student mentors, so it was almost like watching seven small shows in a row, each with different backdrops, lighting and music. The mentors, each of whom worked with a group of graduating fashion design students, included Jason Wu on behalf of Madworkshop; designer and celebrity stylist Bao Tranchi; Jennifer Tong, design director for Adidas/Agron, Inc.; Vince designers Debbie Sabet, Patrik Ervell and Arthur Thammavong; creative talent from Ralph Lauren; celebrity stylist B. Akerlund; and Eduardo Castro, costume designer for ABC's "Once Upon a Time."
This year's event also celebrated the school's centennial year and its fashion design program's 40th anniversary, including a dinner and auction to raise money for scholarships. According to the school, 87% of degree students receive scholarships and financial aid. Ninety-two percent of the class of 2018 are employed or in graduate school within one year out. With a solid reputation and an apparent desire to draw more outside attention and recognition, Otis's fashion program may not be flying so under the radar for much longer.
While the event's showmanship was at the forefront, it did not take away from the actual clothes: The design and construction were on point. Several garments looked as though they could have walked in the mentors' own runway shows. Out of the 125 student looks shown, click through for our favorites.