Emergence: In Review

On Tuesday, I and many other fashion enthusiasts braved the damp, chilly air to check out the student “Emergence” show at The Madam Walker Theater.  Having just seen the Art Institute’s Student show months prior and knowing Ian Stikeleather was producing this show, my expectations were pretty high. By 7:30, a healthy number of people were already milling about the 4th floor. When I approached the ticket counter, I was greeted by a lovely man who made pleasant chit chat as he escorted me to my seat. My fashion show, partner-in-crime, Polina Osherov had yet to arrive, so I thought it best to take advantage of the {{complementary}} wine in the bar. Wow, a $10 admission ticket was already reasonable, throw in a few glasses of red and you have a win/win situation. Fast forward through my conversations with fashion alums Gabriel Poshadlo, Petra Slinkard, Nikki Blaine {{who had some really big news}} and Bernie Martin {{still high from his night at Lucas Oil}}, and it was time to start the show.

Blaring through the speakers, the show opened with Martin Solveig’s “Hello.” The lyrics warned, “You’re alright but I’m here, darling, to enjoy the party. Don’t get too excited ’cause that’s all you get from me.” But by the time Christelle Amelie Jonquet sent down her second look, I was enjoying the party and I was interested. Her tailored separates were thoughtful and deliberate. I am a sucker for suiting and when I saw this little one shouldered, crop vest (middle image below) come down I whispered to Polina, “WANT!”

Image by Diane Childers

These color-blocked ensembles were both well executed and extremely wearable, two adjectives typically absent from the reviews of student work. Jonquet is currently enrolled at The Art Institute and has been brought to Indy via Paris. I’m really excited to see where she goes… I hope it is not out East. We need her here.

Next up, Amanda Holt from the Art Institute in Chicago. Her pieces, also constructed from not exactly amazing materials were also impressively well executed.

These two pieces fastened in the back with exaggerated, exposed zippers that lined up perfectly. As a side note, kudos to Ian for the order of the show. I could already see a deliberate presentation from daytime casual/professional wear and knew the more evening and avant garde would wrap the show.

It is right about this point in the show that I took note that not once had I stared at the model longer than I had at the clothing. The loose side bun and clean, fresh faces were neither distracting nor underwhelming. Styled by Erica Stikeleather, the girls looked age appropriate and professional. It wasn’t until you saw their teetering walk down the runway that you could differentiate the pros from the “tall, skinny friends of the designer.” The look of the show took itself seriously and so did I…

Aside from an ill-placed, Icecapades ensemble, the show continued to hold my interest. Fred Schwier from IU Bloomington {{and his models}} put a smile on my face. Blessed with good song and great styling, this stretch of playful Bermuda shorts and well executed men’s shirts reinvigorated the show and had audience members smiling, nodding and pointing.

image by Ani Ziemniak

A highlight of the night was his wide-eyed step into the limelight {{minute 16:28 at http://www.nightlights.tv/00_GlitzEmergence.shtm}}. The front row of ladies, recovering from an assault of good looking men, giggled as he stared, glassy eyed and obviously under-slept into the wall of paparazzi at the end of the catwalk. Cute moment. Guess you had to be there…

Then we moved into evening wear, lingerie and the more avant garde. Surprisingly enough, this marked the weak point in the show. Sloppy sideboob, visibly failing double stick tape, unfinished hems {{and by unfinished, I mean, half sewn, half hanging}} and a few severe questions of taste marched in front of me. I gave Gabrielle Poshadlo the “Oh, no she didn’t!” face across the runway as I saw a girl model a short, white cotton nightie coupled with, wait for it… black control top pantyhose. I understand that these are students, which is why I am not critical of the fit or the fabric selections{{$$$}}. However, at 22, I could tell the difference between something that was finished and something that was a sketch of an idea. How a dress with a half sewn hem led a collection… But I digress.

Maybe it was the wine, maybe it was the chorus of “Black and Yellow Black and Yellow…” but my interest started to fade and my eyes to wander. The pieces weren’t grabbing me and the poor construction was making my eyes twitch. I could see the rest of the audience start to fidget but then, in the midst of our distraction, Jennifer Spriggs from University of Cincinnati swept in and administered a TKO that no one saw coming. Her first tactic, send in Indy’s best walker, Emily Nyberg, to stare you down while she rocks a four piece, well, I don’t really know how to describe it. A picture is worth a thousand words.

image by Ani Ziemniak

She followed this bold move with a badass cream coat that included with it every 2010 trend: asymmetry, exaggerated shoulders, exposed hardware and edge. The stitching and detailing won me over. I was impressed. {{Please, can someone stop playing “Black and Yellow?!?!”}}

That odd selection of cream, khaki and salmon was doing it for me and the way she used it was so thoughtful and right on. She may not be ready to win Project Runway, but her complicated construction and unusual forms drew me in and reminded me of why student shows are so fun: imagination, experimentation and execution all working against experience and available resources.

All in all, it was a great show. Polina and I are looking forward to photographing Jennifer’s pieces this spring. The last time we photographed a student’s work, it went a little something like this:

Fashion week is racing to an end. Next up, Catherine Fritsch’s Transformations show at the IndyFringe. I can’t wait. Tickets are $10 {{$8 for students}} and the show starts at 7:00pm. Visit http://indyfringe.org/ for detail. See you there!


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