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Marist Student Fashions Draw from Optical Illusions and Sustainability

Meet 18 student fashion designers, and see the 50-plus designs they’ve created in the 35th Silver Needle Runway (SNR). This fashion event features a fashion show livestreamed Saturday, May 22, 2021, a prerecorded virtual fashion show premiering the same day, a digital look book of the designs, video profiles of each designer, and a documentary. All are produced by the fashion program students at Marist College, a private school two hours north of Manhattan. Threads is one of the event’s sponsors.

The 18 designers, all seniors at Marist, are vying for the coveted Designer of the Year award. “They presented their collections and theses remotely on Zoom to our panel of 10 industry professional judges,” explains SNR Student Communications Director Erica Capobianco. The winner will be announced May 22, 2021. The on-campus fashion show is closed to the public. However, you can get a glimpse of the students’ three-garment collections at the prerecorded show and during Saturday’s livestream.

The designers began their studies at Marist with varied design and sewing experiences, and each approached the creation of their final collection differently. They were inspired by personal interests and experiences, whether it was travel to distant times and places, other cultures, and even the characters from Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales. One designer took her inspiration from the relatable routine of shopping for groceries.

Inspired by illusions and confusion

Marist senior Jillian Cardarelli, who has a fine arts background, says she created her collection from the idea of optical illusions and how they confuse perception.

“I wanted to create confusion within my collection with parts of the garments exploding from the body or drooping off the body,” she says. She manipulated fabrics with a slash-and-spread method and with “subtraction cutting.” She also chose sheer and opaque fabrics to create looks that reveal and conceal.

Cardarelli’s ideas correlate with the 35th Silver Needle Runway’s theme of “Illusion.”  According to SNR’s promotional materials, the show’s intent is to create a dialog about how individuals are faced with—but can free themselves from—skewed perspectives, prejudices, and notions of who they are or who they should be.

Already a winning collection

Other designers used their collections to take on the issues of environmentalism and sustainability.

“I cut up a bunch of men’s button-downs and pants and then laid them out, sewed them back together into a flat fabric, and then went from there,” says student designer Olivia Luposello. “There really is another life in everything.”

The Marist senior’s sustainable creations led her to establish the brand OGL. It and her business plan won her a 2021 Fashion Scholarship Fund award. The FSF, a fashion industry nonprofit, distributes scholarships to promising students pursuing careers in the field. Olivia was one of only 120 scholarship recipients this year.

Sustainability on a small scale

Marist senior Chloe Goldstein says the patterns, colors, and textures she saw while visiting Morocco inspired her collection. So did the local artists. “Everything in my collection is sourced from small sellers,” she says.

She advocates for small business and “slow fashion.”

“I think it is really important to take the time to source sustainable items even if they may be a little bit more expensive or take a little longer to get to you,” she says.

Producing the Silver Needle Runway

Challenges to assembling SNR 35 were plentiful for the Marist fashion program students. It follows the previous year of using nontraditional means to present the 34th SNR, due to the pandemic. While the school conducted classes in-person for the majority of the 2021 spring semester, there were hiccups.

Outbreaks of COVID-19 on the Marist campus in the middle of the semester forced the school to move all classes online for about a month. The back-and-forth, in-person and remote learning “impacted the designer’s schedules for deadlines and delayed our video shoot schedule for our promotional videos,” says Erica, the communications director. “But, truthfully, this group of thirty-eight producers is so incredibly talented and we have all learned one of the most important lessons in this industry, which is learning how to be adaptable!”

The 35th annual Silver Needle Runway will livestream at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, with a virtual, pre-recorded show premiering on SNR’s YouTube Channel on Saturday, as well.





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