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Drexel’s Annual Fashion Show Debuts Creative 3-D Zero-Waste Knitting Tech, Sustainable and Handmade Techniques

May 24, 2019

Critic Frank Agostino, student designer Chandricka Carr and student-model Ren (Joy) Fangyuan in a dress inspired by James Galanos.

Expect the experimental; 3-D design, handcrafted macramé, silk embellishments and some sustainably sourced collections will set the stage at Drexel’s University’s annual fashion show on Saturday, June 1 presented by the Fashion Design and Design & Merchandising programs in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design.

This year’s show will take place at the Urban Outfitters Corporate Headquarters at the Philadelphia Navy Yard (5000 South Broad St.), Building 543. The first show will be held at 4 p.m., with a ticket price of $30 in advance and $40 at the door. The second show will be held at 8 p.m. and followed by a wine and cheese reception, with a ticket price of $60 in advance and $70 at the door. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased here. For more information, call 215.895.2390 or visit

Each year, Drexel’s Design & Merchandising seniors work behind the scenes to produce, direct and execute the fashion show. Putting their years of education and practice to the test, students help coordinate public relations and marketing, the selection of models and garments and facilitate ticket sales. 

Fashion ’19 features 26 seniors and nine graduate students who employed a wide variety of design, sourcing and production methods in their work. Techniques such as printing, dying, embroidery, bead work, laser cutting, 3-D design, fabric manipulation and knitting are discernable in the garments. Students collaborated with peer designers at Sungkyunkwan University School of Art (SKKU) in South Korea, to create one-of-a-kind sustainable looks.

Eligible student collections have the opportunity to be honored in categories, including “best in show,” “most creative and saleable” and “excellence in illustration.” This year’s panel of judges will include representatives from Nicole Miller, Boyd’s, Frank Agostino and Joan Shepp.

These new designers are disrupters, taking on social issues, inclusivity, new technology and transparency – while incorporating key methods for reducing fashion’s environmental footprint. A few of this year’s featured designers incorporated up-cycled material, zero-waste cutting, adaptive re-use and the use of “slow fashion” principles which include: good quality, clean environment and fairness to both consumers and producers. 

The featured collections include:

Priya Jyotishi seeks to establish sensibility using minimalistic textiles. Her concepts illustrate originality while also promoting the use of sustainable resources. Her collection was focused on constructing minimalist concepts and building upon the notion that “less is more.” Utilizing basic shapes like rectangles, her designs are interchangeable in overall structure. This cost-effective technique prioritizes the reduction of waste while also advocating for greater individual customization. These designs are composed through application of Shima Seiki digital knitting technology, which is typically used in creating fully knitted, durable fabrics.

Brianna Feeney was inspired by her hometown of Encinitas, California. This sleepy surf town's motto is “Keep it funky.” She strived to create a collection that captures the funkiness of a town where hippies, outlaws and surfers collide. A sun-kissed color palette pays homage to the town which exists in endless summer. Handcrafted macramé and shibori printed fabric emulate the free-spirited nature of the town. Brianna plays with feminine and figure flattering silhouettes contrasted by large volumes.

"FLOWERHEAD" by Logan Howard features garments that are heavily adorned with handmade embellishments: silk flowers, torchon bobbin lace, beading and yarn embroidery. This in-depth exploration and use of hand rendered processes is intended to call attention to and to celebrate that which is handmade. Because the term “handmade” so often carries the negative connotations of “simple” and “unsophisticated,” the garments within this collection seek to dispel this notion, elevating the delicate and precious nature of that which is made by hand. The collection pairs the heavily embellished pieces with simpler garments made of cotton voile, printed with floral designs from feed sacks of the 1930s and 1940s. 

Shawnette Smalls is an active mom of two and a gallery owner. Her daily experiences and the clothes she’d want to wear running from meetings to soccer games to art openings always inspire her designs. Her designs help her to achieve her desired impact on the world, trying to conquer it with kids in tow. The mission of this introductory collection of “Brando Marlo Brando” by Shawnette Smalls is to highlight structured clothing with feminine ease. 

Mia Lazzaro’s collection takes inspiration from the African Serengeti and the creatures that inhabit it. Pairing contemporary animal motifs and textures, she dubs animal print as “the new neutral.” Each look pushes the boundaries between innerwear and outerwear, with bra structures over mesh and high hip style lines. The designs also showcase leather manipulation and embellishment, with components of hardware. Almost all materials used to create this collection were curated from fabric scraps and leftover materials, as environmental consciousness is an important aspect of Lazzaro’s designs

Evan Hirsch aims to create a visual performance with his collection. Pieces that have the ability to transform from one look to into a seemingly completely different garment drive the main force of his runway show. With a pull at the neckline, cocktail dresses turned into flowing gowns, contrary to the audience’s expectations for the show. Hirsch’s inspiration for his transformations is “From the darkness, comes light.” The garments go from dark textures and monochromatic black to metallic and cream dresses and gowns.

Zinan (Gina) Guo would like to further advance the sustainable mindset within the fashion industry. Guo’s collection is inspired by coral bleaching. Impacted by global warming, climate change leads to heat waves in the ocean, causing species under the sea to start dying. This especially affects coral reefs. Gua designed her own prints based on the texture and color of the coral reef using a digital printing technique. She hopes this collection can send a message to the public that the ecosystem needs to be protected.


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