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Runway ready

Threads Fashion Show showcases student designers

Clothing collections designed by students will come to life on the runway during the 19th annual Threads Fashion Show.

The student-run show is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on April 22 in Finch Fieldhouse. Audience members will be able to view art pieces in the Mounted Expedition before models strut the runway. A moderated Q&A session with “Project Runway” co-host Tim Gunn will follow the show.

The event will showcase Central Michigan University’s Fashion Merchandising and Design program’s “ingenuity, skill and high esteem,” said Carly Coleman, director of the show’s logistics.

“This is a big event we put on to push how talented our program is, how hard our students work and how innovative a lot of their work is,” said Coleman, an Ithaca senior.

General admission tickets cost $10 and VIP access tickets are $50. Tickets can be purchased through Ticket Central or directly from a member of the Threads production class, FMD 357A. The VIP access package offers priority seating in the first three rows and admittance to a VIP reception in the Powers Ballroom.

Threads Fashion Show is the second largest event on campus, said Threads’ faculty adviser Ian Mull.

The cost of the show has also increased. Threads cost $16,000 in 2016. This year’s production nearly doubled, costing $30,000.

Mull said he saw up to 80 percent increases on labor costs alone.

“I find it ironic that our students are paying tuition for this class, they are raising the funds for this show and (are) being charged the same as a group coming from outside of campus,” Mull said.

University Events provides the production with technical equipment to put on the show in Finch Fieldhouse, but the class is responsible for labor fees.

The cost for student tech workers also went up from $14 to $17 an hour per employee.

“This has been a really big struggle in Threads given that we didn’t anticipate this,” Mull said, “The show may be cost prohibitive next year.”

The College of Human Environmental Studies gives the production class a budget of $2,500. The budget is then brought up by ticket sales from previous shows, fundraising and the show’s sponsors.

Threads’ biggest sponsors are the Foster Swift Collins and Smith law firm and CMU Alumni Association.

Despite financial obstacles, students have continued to work vigorously since last May to put on the show. Student designers, models and event planners have combined strengths to present a fashion show of high acclaim.

Designers Prepare to See Their Ideas Come to Life

One of Thread’s biggest goals is to provide an experience similar to a professional fashion show.

The production requires 500 hours of event service and will exhibit the craftsmanship of one of the country’s twenty-five best fashion programs, Mull said.

“We try with this show to replicate it to be as similar to the industry (as possible),” he said.

Out of the 35 Fashion Merchandising and Design students who submitted apparel collections, 26 designers are featured in this year’s show.

The elimination process took place on judging day, where designers were given 10 minute time slots to present their garments to five anonymous judges. Only models were allowed to be in the same room as the judges.

Designs that scored well during judging day will be recognized during the show. The top collections will earn cash prizes with money from the College of Education and Human Services.

Early submissions for the show were due February 24 and late submissions were due April 7. Designers needed to provide mood boards, sketches, a design statement and hair and makeup preferences for their collection.

This is the first year that all judging was anonymous. Judges rated designs off a point system based on construction, creativity and aesthetic appeal.

“Designers are not going to know who is judging them and the judges won’t know whose work they are looking at,” said Alyssa Kohler, the director of submissions and hospitality for Threads.

Fashion expedition

Designers aren’t the only ones who put in hard work for Threads. Planning of the event’s theme has been ongoing since a month after last year’s show concluded.

Planning began in May 2016, after producers were selected by Mull earlier that month.

Mull looks for producers who are “multifaceted.” Ideal candidates are “hardworking, talented and (equipped with) creativity and leadership skills,” he said.

For him, co-producers Julia Allen and Lauren Agnew are a complementary pair who give the show “the best overall package” for this year.

By August, student producers were prepared to move forward with the show’s themes, turning their ideas into reality, Mull added.

The show’s theme this year is “Fashion Expedition.” It combines elements drawn from travel and “exploring new places, new ideas and yourself,” Allen said.

Allen came up with the idea during her internship with the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. The Macomb junior remembers staring out her dorm room window when she started getting inspired.

“Being in New York made me think about diversity and culture,” Allen said. “It was something that everyone (there related to and was connected by) because it was a city of so many different (personalities and) cultures.”

The theme will focus on elements of self-discovery and adventure, the producers said.

“It is really focused on pushing yourself out into the world to take adventures, explore creativity and go places you have never been before,” Mull said.

Setting up the show’s aesthetic

Planners used the idea of travel to convey the show’s theme. For example, the tickets are designed to resemble airplane boarding passes.

The stage will also include lighting using special runway fixtures to mimic an airport setting. Illinois sophomore Krista Franzese hopes this will remind audiences of the producers’ concepts.

“(We aim) to show the path to finding your inner self,” said Franzese, who is responsible for lighting, music, model choreography and designing the runway.

Franzese is one of six committee directors. Other committees include venue and atmosphere, logistics, submissions and hospitality, modeling, public relations and the mounted exhibition, which is a display of fashion-related artwork. The students running these committees are responsible for organizing fundraisers and leading groups of at least five fashion show promotion and production students.

“Project Runway” Star at CMU

Mull expects this year’s audience to exceed 2,000 because of Gunn’s presence at the show.

“People who are familiar with the fashion industry will understand who Tim Gunn is and his importance within the industry,” Mull said. “I think (having him here) really helps to legitimize our program.”

Gunn is a fashion consultant, author and co-host for Lifetime reality television series “Project Runway” and “Project Runway Junior.” Gunn and his co-host Heidi Klum won a 2013 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program.

“I don’t think I’ll be able to watch ‘Project Runway’ the same after this experience,” Agnew said. “I won’t even believe I am meeting him until I’m sitting next to him in front of (everybody).”

This year’s Threads’ designers will also have a private meet and greet with Gunn. The fashion icon is expected to view their garments and take a photograph with designers on the day of the show.

“I can’t even describe it,” said Commerce Township sophomore Tiffany Griffiths. “Being able to meet a top fashion icon is super incredible and I can’t even believe we were able to get (Tim Gunn) here.”

After negotiations with Threads, Program Board, University Events and his agent, Gunn agreed to do the segment under moderation by Mull and Threads’ student producers. Although he committed to doing the Q&A segment, Gunn will not be present for the actual show.

Gunn was first contacted by Program Board to be included in the 2017 Central Michigan University Speaker Series that runs from April 24-25 in Finch Fieldhouse.

“Program Board (is) really responsible for bringing him in,” Mull said. “They realized that Threads and Tim Gunn were a really good (match).”

Gunn will not be the only Lifetime guest star making an appearance. Fourth place winner from the second season of “Project Runway Junior,” Isabella Kostrezwa, will also be at Threads.

Kostrezwa’s stage name is Izzy and she is a junior at the Sacred Heart Academy in Mount Pleasant. She will have her own station at the venue that will be presenting three of her garments displayed on live models. Each of these outfits was created and shown on the show that premiered Dec. 22, 2016.

Walking the runway

Leah Robinson joined Threads’ model calls last year and is now a student director for models.

The Farmington Hills sophomore is responsible for coordinating more than 100 student models for this year’s show.

Designers choose their own models. Many of them had a good idea of who their models would be prior to the open casting calls held earlier this semester, Robinson said.

Robinson’s committee focused on teaching student models how to walk properly and improve their stature on the runway.

“The most important thing for a model is to keep in mind that it is not about them, it is about the designer and the garment,” Robinson said. “Models are basically a live mannequin. They need to make sure to show off the garment to the best of their ability.

“Our designers spend so much time making these outfits that it needs to be seen by everyone who attends.”

For Robinson, using CMU students as models makes the show more personal.

“It’s our own students and we are targeting our own student body,” she said. “Having your friends and family up on stage makes (the show) just that much more exciting.” 


About Samantha Shriber

Samantha Shriber is a staff reporter at Central Michigan Life and is a Saint Clair Shores ...

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