Art and fashion blend seamlessly at NC State's Art2Wear show

CorrespondentApril 26, 2014 

Editor's Note: Story has been updated to indicate to clarify Justin LeBlanc's and Rebecca Walker's role in the fashion show.

Not unlike the scene inside the tents at the Lincoln Center during New York Fashion Week, the vibe outside N.C. State’s Art2Wear fashion show on Friday night was frenetic.

Evening thunderstorms moved the annual student show from its original outdoor setting on Stafford Commons inside to a ballroom in the sleek new Talley Student Union. In the corridors outside the ballroom, student models stood bedecked in fanciful paper sculptures created by first-year design students while the crowd pressed up to the doors, those without tickets trying to slip into the sold-out show.

Once seated, the audience was treated to an opening act of the fashion collections created for the Charleston Fashion Week Emerging Designer Competition by N.C. State professor, Art2Wear co-adviser and “Project Runway” alum Justin LeBlanc and N.C. State student Rebecca Walker, along with a video presentation of plant-inspired designs by students in the school’s Prague Institute study abroad program.

The main show, a collaboration between the university’s colleges of design and textiles, featured 10 collections of six to eight looks by a dozen student designers, with animated shorts by design students peppered between. Though faculty advisers consult, the show – from the designs to the direction – is completely student-run.

Katie Scheuerle, a junior, was director of this year’s show.

“Having the opportunity to collaborate with so many incredible student designers and professionals – graphic designers, photographers, fashion designers, videographers and marketers – was amazing,” Scheuerle said.

The collections, all created to fit the show’s theme of Accelerated Evolution: Speed, ran the gamut from gauzy, feminine dresses by designer Sara Clark to futuristic, spacey pieces in white and metallics from designers Sara Moon and Allison Comer.

Several designers utilized unconventional materials to create dramatic looks. Kara Walker used broken CDs to create a metallic, holographic effect on vividly-colored dresses, and Kaitlyn Sulser and Lauren Vance draped a slinky evening gown with metal chain to stunning effect.

Perhaps most dazzling, though, was the final collection – Sklo, by senior Sydney Smith. The sculptural designs were made with fabric and stained glass. The final look, an intricate two-piece ensemble with an angular, geometric glass top and a surprisingly fluid glass chainmail skirt, ended the show on a high note. Smith, who aspires to be a costume designer, said the final show was the culmination of a years-long association with Art2Wear.

“I have been attending the Art2Wear shows since I was just a freshman in high school,” she said. “This event, and what it represents, has been a major impact in my life.”

By the end, most in attendance forgot Art2Wear was a student show. The event was on par with the shows one would experience during fashion week.

“My goal was to create an event that entertains, inspires and interests the audience, while at the same time showcasing the incredible work of our student designers,” Scheuerle said. “My favorite part of Art2Wear, other than collaborating with my peers, is the impact it creates on the community.”

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