It’s fashion week in Minnesota, do you know where your kids are? Last Saturday, the University of Minnesota fashion students were showing off the fruits of their studies, like a final exam, job interview and leap into public life all rolled into one. The look of student fashion show seems to fall into a similar pattern: the bulk of the designers work on well-constructed sportswear lines with some cocktail dresses and separates advertising their functional skills, there is an outré offering or two built around a sartorial in-joke and hopefully, something stunning. The quality of the work overall varies by institution, but happily, the U still sets the benchmark for educational quality in the Twin Cities.
The first three designers of the evening set the tone for sportiness, with Jennifer Robertus showing beachwear and suiting in stripy aqua, beige and coral, like a throwback to a 1980s Land’s End catalog with a slimmer silhouette. Andrea Sittler followed that with monochrome trousers, dresses and jumpsuits punctuated with panels of neon fabric, culminating in a flouncy layered skirt that was a definite crowd-pleaser. Kari Kachelmacher showed a line of re-purposed vintage fabrics cut to sporty separates and 60s inspired dresses and skirts which bode well for spring and summer and transitioned nicely into the more formal looks that were to follow.
Stephanie Hillman’s dresses in silks all had an added flair through a swirling floral patterned burst that touched on the garish, probably appropriately so as her inspiration came from gardens in Las Vegas. Gabby Goetz took us to Miami proms via a stated inspiration of Marie Antoinette, showing cocktail dresses in pale metallic lavenders with silver and gold threads, while Carol Fallabeck opted for a more flowing princess look deep purples and greens, topped off with a Snow White style blue and white gown, all of which had paper gold embellishments that were not actually attached to not a part of the fabric, but a tacked on addition.
Dziyana Zhyhar showed a line of professional wear with charcoal grey slacks and the occasional burst of aquamarine silk and some of the pieces had the extra touch of zippers that could be opened to lower the length of a hem or in one case, unzip entirely to reveal a different dress beneath. Zhyzar’s line of bureaucratic flair was a nice lead in to what was probably the most forward-looking set of the evening, a line of body-gripping athletic wear from Silvia Güttman with jackets and vest subtly marked with a silkscreen of a stingray or a koi fish – it was like Mission Control and then the cosmonauts launch party.
Sara Lopez provided the art student line of the evening, with oversize suiting deconstructed to form draping coverings for the models, like the suits from “Stop Making Sense” got diced together. Lizzie Hillman’s line of sharp dresses and overcoats inspired by Paris and gothic architecture had a simplicity and style to them that came close to elegance, dark slate and aubergine banded with scarlet and orange made for a satisfying and mature look. To end the evening, Laura van Riper took us to the alter with a buildup of models from flower girl to bride, in light earth pastels and asymmetrical bunching that was both sharp in contemporary design and natural feel.
In all, a well rounded class of 2012, and where they go – to the fields of Target? To bridal magazines? To start their own lines? – Only time will tell, but they’ve shown us that they can make it work. In this economy, it’s the safe thing to do. Check out Staciaann’s full set of photos on Flickr.
NB: Here are some links to the reviews around “The Shows” on Tuesday, featuring Emma Berg, Amanda Christine & Kimberly Jurek. We’re sad we couldn’t make it out, but here are thoughts from l’etoile, City Pages Dressing Room Blog and MSPMag.