In its sixteen years, N.C. State’s Art2Wear show, which took place Friday at N.C. State’s Talley Student Center ballroom, has allowed its student designers to push their creative boundaries with clothes both wearable and not-so. This year’s theme, “Déjà Vu,” once again allowed each collection to be rich with each meaning. Each designer had a story.
Ask model Elizabeth Folk how she feels in her Lizzy Lawrence ensemble and her response begins with a broad smile. “I feel really, like, positive. It’s the bright colors, and they are pretty comfortable. They’re fun!” Lawrence, an art and design major, named her collection “Madeleine,” like those delight French sponge cakes with the light almond flavor; her take on the show’s theme was to express how taste and smell evoke memories, sometimes of home. Folk is wearing a cropped top with a racer back and bell sleeves formed by an overlay of organza dotted with colorful pom-poms, paired knitted pants. There’s a nostalgia to her knitted pieces – the models look like doll babies in them. And if the smells of baked goods remind her of home, Lawrence had other reminders too. Four of the models she recruited were high school friends from her hometown of High Point. “It was a real fun reunion for all of us,” Folk says.
Seniors Hannah Stabler and Tristan Griffiths are the only pair with a collection at the show, and it was fine. “We were roommates at one point, so we knew we worked together well,” says Griffiths. “They told us we are one of the few pairs who’ve done this and haven’t had a huge fight.” What helped is that they had a firm division of labor: Stabler made the garments, while Griffiths handles the red thermo vacuum-formed acrylic plastic masks the models wore for their “Familiar” collection, which featured characters in varied roles during a ritual. That was Griffith’s idea. “He walked up to me and said ‘I want to do a ritual procession for Art2Wear,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I’m in.’ ” There were notes of innocence and menace in their collection, like a Grimm fairytale. One male outfit had a button-less coat with transparent insets evoking a uniform, over frayed bottom pants. His mask topped with a shaggy mane.
Alyssa Padmos is an animal science major. But a good friend of the senior works at the school’s costume shop and she’s spent a lot of time there. So when her friend urged her to apply to Art2Wear, Padmos thought, why not. She’s the first to feature headpieces on the show’s runway. The vegan found inspiration in food. “My mother bought me these dried tomatoes and I thought ‘those are really pretty.’” She loves the deep reddish tones and that became the starting point for her “Enigmatic Daydream” collection; all the pieces have something living on them, like Spanish moss. Although she’ll be working at a zoo in Florida after graduation, this experience has been inspiring. She says she and her boyfriend are going to start a costume business.
Betrayal launched Laura Wyker’s “Imposteria” collection. “Someone I knew was not the person I thought they were,” she says. That led to heartache for the senior, but it also led to her elegant, all-leather laser cut collection. While she was mulling over her betrayal, she discovered the hawk moth, one variety of which is devious, using tricks to fool other organisms for food. “There’s the skin you have and the real skin underneath. You trick the world, maybe maliciously, maybe protectively. But we all do it.” Using jump rings as connectors, her pieces show off that outer skin, sometimes via a backless halter, or maybe as a cut-out at the hip. A skirt’s panels are shaped like wings, studded with the jump rings. It was very therapeutic. “Oh yeah, I’m feel like I’m totally over it,” she says of the inspiring betrayal. “One day, I was crying and my sister said, ‘Put it in your art.’ ”
This was Grace Hallman’s second time creating a collection for the show, and now that she thinks about it, her “Flora Street” pieces did build on her “Nia” show from last year. That show, with lasercut pieces that followed the shape of the body, celebrated athletes. “The theme was really important to me because I was an athlete growing up.” This year, she also made an athleisure collection, but added her interest in plants. So she hand painted some designs and Spoonflower created some printed cotton fabrics she combined with some reflective fabrics. The effect was a collection that felt light, even tropical. A high-waisted pencil skirt had the handpainted fabric with side panels of mesh. Cool as a breeze on the beach.
While in the United Kingdom, Carly Owens studied embroidery, and she fell hard for it. So the first-semester senior knew she would use it as she explored making fashion with varied techniques. Her “Haunt” collection is about the ghosts of a past life appearing in the present, an experience she says she’s had. She wanted her looks to evoke a broken-down doll. That’s probably why the first thing she made for the collection is a black dress with a baby doll silhouette, with multiple layers of ruffled organza, red sequins, and embroidered gray wool on the chest. There’s darkness in it, she says, a loss of innocence. “I really like textural things,” she says, her delight with the dress evident. “Plus I just love ruffly, poufy things too.”
Grace Bilbao, a junior, has mostly done illustration and small sculpture. “This is the first I’m making it more real,” she says. She chose her models carefully, slowly finding people who looked like a group that belonged together and they became her characters and their looks were created for them. All together she was aiming for ready to wear that was like sleepwear using her interest in manipulating table knitting. That meant, in one case, a cropped honeycomb cable sweater with a multi-tier rolled turtleneck and safety eye embellishment in some of the combs. Her color scheme has mauve, baby blue, black, and rich burgundy. “This is just me playing around,” she says.
At a construction site, senior Cristina Wright says, “everything is laid out and it’s really messy, but there’s still something beautiful in front of you.” That’s where she got her inspiration for “Retrospect” and that’s why it has really rich blues, like painters tape, and vivid oranges, like construction cones. Her denim collection also featured sinotype, also known as “sun printing,” a process that saturates the color to create its vividness. A standout piece was a caped gown with the deep squared neckline, its blue mottled and fading as the gown flows toward earth.
Delusions of Identity
Christian Fuda did Jeanna Young a favor, standing in during rehearsal for a missing model. Two days before, he didn’t know that he would be covered head to toe with panty hose, knotted and tied into a form-fitting gown. “I wanted to show some vulnerability on the male form which isn’t explored enough,” says Young of her collection, “Delusions of Identity: An Altered Vulnerabilty.” A senior in art and design, with a focus on textiles, she’s interested too in mixing non-traditional materials with a fabric’s structure and seeing how it is transformed. She wants the clothes to be snug; the human form, she says, is what brings garments alive. Panty hose interest her because she was considering how to make crochet stretchier. Fuda’s arms are encased in Young’s creation, bound to his sides. “I feel a little confined,” he says, goodnaturedly. He’s also wearing a pair of panty hose. “So that’s a whole ‘nother thing,” he says.
Senior Quinan Dalton says you can see a progression of skill in her collection. Her first piece was a black body suit, felted after she hand knit it. “This is the most knitting I’ve ever done,” she says. That was intentional; she wanted to push herself. This is her second Art2Wear and in March, she was at Charleston’s fashion week. Her “Nyctalops” collection, a word that mean “night blindness,” was inspired by horror films from the late ’70s and early ’80s, especially “Suspiria,” a 1977 Italian movie that features an American ballerina. “I wanted the clothes to have this weird beauty but the more you look at them, the creepier they get.” Her favorite piece is an ethereal dress of netting dotted with alpaca and wool hand felt over sequined shorts. “It moves well. It’s floaty,” she says.