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“A positive change in the world” – The Source

The Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts will present its 93rd annual fashion design show on April 30. In the photo on the left are examples of the “Wild”, “Venus” and “Future” collections. (Designers: Bridget Halliday, Olivia Baba and Kate Ward. Photos: Patrick Lanham. Makeup: Randi Nicole. Hair: Dominic Michael Salon)

Fashion is many things – an art, a calling, a passion, a business.

But fashion can also be a force for good, said Mary Ruppert-Stroescu, associate professor and head of fashion design at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis.

“Fashion can bring about positive change in the world,” said Ruppert-Stroescu, an authority on sustainable design and how technology shapes fashion innovation. “Our students excel in design, but also in how fashion can support society and help preserve our planet for future generations. »

At 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 30, Sam Fox School will present WashU’s 93rd Annual Fashion Design Show. One of the longest running shows of its kind in the country, the event will feature dozens of models wearing dozens of outfits that together explore themes of sustainability, accessibility, structure and more.

Looks from the Venus collection. Pants and top by Kate Ward. Green wrap and pink dress by Olivia Baba. Maddie Savitch white dress. (Style: Olivia Baba and Lambo Perkins. Photos: Patrick Lanham. Makeup: Randi Nicole. Hair: Dominic Michael Salon.)

Touch experience

“A lot of the work in this exhibition is inspired by materials,” Ruppert-Stroescu said. She pointed out that for consumers, fashion is often filtered through photography and popular media, while contemporary designers often use digital tools to develop designs. “But a design made in silk or chiffon will look and feel totally different from the same design in brocade or recycled cotton.”

The attention to the tactile experience is evident in the opening collection of special occasion outfits – 17 in all – created as part of “Made to Model”, an all-volunteer program that pairs WashU designers with youth from the Special School District of St. Louis County, Variety STL and KEEN (Kids Enjoy Exercise Now) St. Louis. Founded last summer by sophomore arts and science student Shelei Pan, the group creates clothing for students with disabilities, who may have difficulty wearing standard sizes and fits, or sensitivities to colors, patterns or particular textures.

“Our goal is to raise awareness of the importance of fashion for people of all abilities,” Pan told WashU Source last fall. “And in turn, promote inclusivity and awareness.”

Looks from the Wild collection. Dress by Bridget Halliday. Skirt, top and gloves by Josie Zimmerman. Crochet top by Sophie Roig; crochet skirt by Mackenzie-Mary Llewellyn. Pants and top by Nisha Mani. (Style: Angela Clemente Faith Phillips. Photos: Patrick Lanham. Makeup: Randi Nicole. Hair: Dominic Michael Salon.)

From ‘Daybreak’ to ‘Nocturnal’

The next collection, titled “Daybreak”, features bold hand-woven knits. “Venus” showcases loose, spring-inspired garments in soft pastels. ‘Elemental’ shifts the palette towards earth tones, while ‘Reflection’ features cool, shimmering fabrics that shimmer like water. “Wild” pays homage to festival culture (including WashU’s own outdoor concert series) through “upcycled” vintage fabrics and crochet.

“Knitting and crocheting are extremely sustainable methods,” Ruppert-Stroescu pointed out. “They use exactly the amount of material that the final part contains. There is no waste.

Next is “Future,” featuring sharp, angular lines and clean, saturated colors, followed by “Disruption” (experimental looks), “Polish” (tailored overcoat) and “Unwind” (recycled chiffon kimono jackets) . Concluding the program will be “Geode”, which is inspired by geological formations, and “Nocturnal”, bringing together a variety of formal looks.

Looks from the Reflection collection. Green and cream shirt, beige pants and beaded dress by Zinaida Calixte. Blue shirt and navy pants by Katherine Dudley. (Style: Jaitsiri Ahluwalia, CJ Benn and Jess Piard. Photos: Patrick Lanham. Makeup: Randi Nicole. Hair: Dominic Michael Salon.)

An important skill

The 93rd The annual Fashion Design Show is organized by students of Ruppert-Stroescu’s Fashion Promotion and Exhibition course, which explores topics related to fashion marketing and public relations.

Ruppert-Stroescu launched the class — which is open to students from across the university — in the spring of 2020. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the suspension of large gatherings, the class quickly pivoted and staged the 2020 fashion shows and 2021 as online events, as well as social media campaigns.

“This is the first year the class will be holding the fashion design show as an in-person event,” Ruppert-Stroescu explained. “This is an incredible opportunity, as well as an essential learning experience for all of our students.

“For designers, presenting your work professionally is an important skill.”

Looks from the Future collection. Fuchsia and pink dress by Maddie Savitch. Black and blue dress by Zinaida Calixte. Black and white dress by Lena Cramer. (Style: Caroline Chang and Soohoon Oh. Photos: Patrick Lanham. Makeup: Randi Nicole. Hair: Dominic Michael Salon.)

Sponsors and awards

The Fashion Design Show is coordinated by Ruppert-Stroescu and sponsored by Mother Model Management, Caleres, Evolution St. Louis, Stars Design Group and Tacony Corporation, with support from Dominic Bertani, Randi Nicole and Susan Sanders Block.

The evening will also feature several departmental awards, including:

  • The Saks Fifth Avenue Awards, which will recognize six students who demonstrate exceptional creativity and commercialization in their work. The looks of the selected students will be displayed in May in the Saks Fifth Avenue boutique in the Plaza Frontenac.
  • The Dominic Michael Cutting Edge Award, which highlights the unique links between hair design and clothing design. The award will identify the student whose work most compellingly engages color, texture, and volume.
  • The Susan Sanders Block Silver Ripper Award, given to the junior fashion design student who has shown the greatest determination and growth.
  • The Riverbend Textiles Sustainable Design Leadership Award, given to the student who has promoted sustainable apparel design through active leadership and original fashion design work.
  • The Fashion Citizenship Award, given to an outstanding second-year fashion design student who has demonstrated good citizenship and community involvement.
  • The Stars Design Group Lead Design Talent Award, awarded to a student with strong business potential; price includes mentorship and studio space.
Looks from the Polish collection. Brown coat with fur by Zinaida Calixte. Black coat with gold brocade by Maddie Savitch. Red coat by Mackenzie-Mary Llewellyn. (Photos: Patrick Lanham. Makeup: Randi Nicole. Hair: Dominic Michael Salon.)


The 93rd Annual University of Washington Fashion Design Show kicks off at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 30. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and a “meet and greet” with the creators will immediately follow the show.

The event is free and open to the public, but ticket reservations are required. To reserve seats or to register for the Youtube livestream, visit here.

View campus information COVID-19 policies here.

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