A fashion design student's final year is all about working towards that spring graduate fashion show — a chance to showcase their final projects to fellow students and loved ones, and learn what it takes to put on a runway event. Unfortunately, the pandemic put a wrench in that milestone, forcing schools, like Los Angeles's Otis College of Art & Design, to find alternative ways to showcase student work.
"While this year has been challenging, artists and designers are resilient problem solvers," said Charles Hirschhorn, President of Otis College, in a statement. That is evident in the way Saturday's online fashion show came together. First of all, the "event" featured work from the classes of 2021 and 2020. Through a mix of videoconferencing and in-person fittings, students worked closely with faculty to finalize their looks. Those studying remotely outside L.A. had fabric shipped to them, and shipped finished garments back to be fit and reviewed by industry mentors, while local students dropped off their pieces through a socially distanced process.
"This year we reached across the world to connect with our students and mentors, and navigate through the challenges of online learning," said Chair of Otis Fashion Design, Jill Zeleznik. "The students' commitment to working remotely was testimony to their devotion and adaptability. They overcame all obstacles that were laid before them."
They did that with some help from industry mentors: Each student works with dedicated mentors and designs their looks under their directives. For instance, Oscar-winning "Black Panther" costume designer Ruth Carter tasked students to create "original contemporary eveningwear based on the style, color, elements, or techniques of three African tribes and the sensibility of Afrofuturism." Stylist B. Akerlund tasked students to design "the couture of the post-pandemic world." Jonathan Simkhai's mentees created a dress collection inspired by "the movement, textures, and colors of the sea meeting the shore." Vince designers Deborah Sabet and Arthur Thammavong (an Otis alum) had students take inspiration from painter Noah Davis, founder of the Underground Museum in Los Angeles. And Amy Enuke, a design director at Guess, had students reimagine iconic looks from Guess ads of the '80s and '90s. Other mentors included designers from BCBG, Universal Brand Development, ALC, Prairie Underground, Vivienne Hu, David Meister, AG Jeans and Michi.
See standout pieces from each mentor group in the gallery below.