On the biggest night of the year for Jefferson’s fashion design students, 110 seniors, juniors and sophomores showcased their drive, creativity and talents under the bright lights of the Moulin at Sherman Mills.
The University’s Annual Fashion Show on April 18 featured over 350 looks with diverse inspirations ranging from Alice in Wonderland, to the transformation from grief to joy, to punk culture. Custom prints and jacquards created in collaboration with 30 textile design students enhanced many of the collections.
Led by senior Lauren Vastano, Jefferson’s Fashion Industry Association (FIA) produced the sold-out event attended by prospective and current students, family members, fashion industry leaders, media, fashionistas, influencers, and University faculty, staff and trustees. Some 120 fashion design and fashion merchandising and management students planned every aspect of the program, including the model fittings, run of show and backstage dressings.
“You exemplify the creative culture that we strive to achieve,” beams Sheila Connelly, Jefferson’s fashion design program director. “This is a culture where students critique each other, where they push each other to be their absolute best and they challenge each other every day. It’s also a culture of support, of respect and of kindness and for that, you have made me so proud. You’re not only talented designers—you’re leaders.”
Jefferson’s unique industry-based focus sets it apart from competitors and attracts the attention of leading publications like Fashionista, Connelly says. The influential website recently named the University’s fashion programs No. 7 in the world and No. 3 in the United States.
“You will walk out of here tonight knowing that our students are fashion design professionals from the day they enter this amazing University,” Jefferson President Dr. Stephen K. Klasko told the audience.
Following Dr. Klasko’s remarks, Dr. Mark L. Tykocinski, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, described how Jefferson transforms the academic experience and delivers value to its students. In particular, he noted that employers and graduate schools hire and enroll Jefferson students at a 96 percent rate.
“Tonight, you will see the ambition and the potential for making a better world through our human-centered, design-thinking focus,” says Dr. Tykocinski, the Anthony F. and Gertrude M. DePalma Dean of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College. “That process requires acute thinking and skills—and a deep sense of empathy.”
On the runway, the cheering audience saw a wide variety of women’s, men’s and children’s looks. From NBC10, Bill Henley served as Fashion Show emcee for the 15th year and Katy Zachry provided commentary for each design.
Thomas Heidebrecht received the FIA Award for Best Senior Collection with “FlamBOYant.” (See the full award list below.) Centered around the flamboyance of birds-of-paradise and notions of masculinity past and present, this collection explores how men have adorned themselves throughout time and what it means to dress like and be a man. Supported by the Eileen Martinson ’86 Fund for the Undergraduate Capstone Experience, which helps to defray the cost of fabric and other materials, this collection was a collaboration with textile design students Jacquelyn Moore and Emily Reppert. “FlamBOYant” will appear at New York Fashion Week this fall.
The FIA Award for Best in Show went to senior Vanessa Fath for “Serenity Submerged.” Through original prints and embellishments, this collection—a collaboration with textile design student Olivia Manning—explores the relationships between water and sunlight.
Senior Allerga Pronesti examines the personal struggle with body dysmorphia and gender dysphoria in the collection “Dysembody,” a collaboration with textile design student Ben Jones that won the Mike Ternosky Obey Award for Most Creative Collection. Silhouettes are intended to distort the body in an uncomfortable way by limiting the wearer’s mobility.
The night also saw Emmy Award-winning TV personality, style expert and fashion designer Carson Kressley H’13 receive the Jefferson 2019 Spirit of Design Award, which is presented annually to an individual who has had a significant influence on design and design education.
He started his career as an independent stylist and became invaluable to major designers, such as Ralph Lauren. In 2003, Kressley leaped into television and became a breakout star as the fashion savant on Bravo’s “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.”
Kressley recently reconnected with “Queer Eye” alum Thom Filicia for the interior design show “Get a Room with Carson and Thom.” In introducing Kressley for the Spirit of Design Award, Filicia recognized him as an enthusiastic supporter of Jefferson fashion over the years, including filming student recruitment videos, hosting Discover Fashion Day, funding the Carson Kressley Scholarship, chairing the Fashion Show committee and hiring students as interns.
“He’s here tonight because he’s committed to this University,” says Filicia, who fought back tears honoring his longtime friend. “He’s committed to you—the students. He’s invested. You got a good one.”
In his lighthearted acceptance speech, Kressley joked that the audience should message Bravo to get his show renewed and thanked Jefferson for the honor that has previously gone to such luminaries as Tommy Hilfiger, Geoffrey Beene and Stuart Weitzman.
“This has been a labor of love,” says Kressley, concluding with a quote from Thomas Jefferson. “‘Do you want to know who you are? Act. Action will delineate and define you.’ That’s all I do. I’m just being me.”
Student winners at the 2019 Annual Fashion Show included:
CARSON KRESSLEY AWARD
Most Ready for Retail
Jaclyn Everett, Collection One
COATES BROTHERS CLOTHING AWARD
Excellence in Workmanship and Quality/Senior Collection
Khang Han, Collection One
COLLECTION XIIX AWARD
Collaborative Textile Design for Womenswear
Alexandra Miller, Collection Two
DESIGN EXCELLENCE AWARD
In Performance Apparel
Katherine Collins, Collection One and Two
FASHION DESIGN FACULTY AWARD
Excellence in Design
Colton Snavely, Collection One and Two
FASHION INDUSTRIES ASSOCIATION AWARDS
Best of Show
Vanessa Fath, Collection Two
Best Senior Collection
Thomas Heidebrecht, Collection Two
Best Senior Collection–Honorable Mention
Noel Watt, Collection Two
JOAN CALABRESE AWARD
Design Excellence in Childrenswear
Cullen Dukes and Mckenzi Migliorini
LI & FUNG AWARD
For Design Excellence by a Junior
LI & FUNG AWARD
For Design Excellence by a Junior–Honorable Mention
MIKE TERNOSKY OBEY AWARD
For Most Creative Collection
Allegra Pronesti, Collection Two
NEXUS LEARNING AWARD
A Collaborative Design Initiative
Kara Chamberlin, Collection Two
NICHOLAS LOUIS PALUMBO AWARD
Design Excellence in Menswear
Vanessa Fath, Collection One
SCHOOL OF DESIGN AND ENGINEERING AWARD
Outstanding Senior Design Student
SCHWAB FAMILY AWARD
For Most Well-Merchandised Senior Collection
Khang Han, Collection Two
STUART WEITZMAN AWARD
For Excellence in an Eveningwear or Bridal Collection
Renee Hyde, Collection Two
THE EVELYN AND PAUL KNUDSEN RED DRESS AWARD
For Excellence by a Junior
THE WOOLMARK COMPANY AWARD
For Textile Innovation
Thomas Heidebrecht, Collection Two
UNITED FABRICS AWARD
Original Jacquard Textile Design
for Thomas Heidebrecht’s Collection Two