Transcend, the Annual Benefit Fashion Show, explores the outward manifestation of the unconscious mind. The 14 designers are challenged to push beyond what is expected and 'transcend' their normal, accepted thought processes to reveal hidden layers of themselves through garment making.
Designer Leanna Pascual of Long Island, NY, whose collection Elle. Em. N. oh. P. will be featured during the Transcend show, explained: "I was inspired this semester by the sense of joyful play I felt when I was younger, and still feel, when I put together outfits for myself. In the spirit of transcendence, I reflected on the cycle of rebirths as we go through life, year after year."
Pascual, drawing upon the dramatic reconstructions of her own life, used this artistic inspiration to express these situations visually in her work.
"I set out to create various characters within the collection to illustrate this very idea. I took direction from the fabrics, ceramic glazes, and other various materials that I found myself intuitively drawn towards. I allowed the body to inform my construction decisions by focusing on shapes that both accentuate and mask the body's natural curves. During the sketching phase I thought about the intent I had for the psyche of each garment and how I wanted each piece to make the model feel."
Designers Amelia Stinnette of Baltimore and Erik Clark of Chicago, Ill. also have designs gracing the runway of Transcend. Their collection, Rise of the Alters, is drawn from the idea that alter-egos manifest themselves in each of us and reflect the masks which all of society wears.
"[Our designs] are apart of a very regal, tribal, idiosyncratic society," said Stinnette.
Her design partner, Clark, further explained, "I don't think of clothing as some mundane thing we all do. Clothing expresses who you are and how you feel about yourself to the world. My inspiration comes from the idea of power and manifesting one's true self. I feel that secretly we all wish to wear grand attire. I design for [the] regal super-being that resides in us all, that wants to be walking art. I design for the king, queen, punk, and the jester from various times and culture and combine them."
Stinnette always knew she would one day make it to MICA. "[Ever] since I was a toddler with a Fisher Price easel-chalkboard combo, my parents would drive past MICA on I-83 and say, 'You're gonna be there when you get older.'"
Milquetoast: Experimental Fashion Event will also platform many of MICA's talented students.
Milquetoast is the "capstone event for students in the experimental fashion concentration," explained organizer Valeska Pupulouh. The 16 designers in this show include fiber majors who experiment with different kinds of materials. Designers Kate Weintraub of New York and Anna Strain of Los Angeles, Cal., (whose collection Stunted is a first time collaboration for the two) present the innovative fashion and costume design theme of the show.
"Our inspiration has been anxiety about adulthood and a fascination with childhood," said Strain.
"My work is very much about re-contextualizating garment shapes that we often overlook," said Weintraub. "How does the collar of a button down shirt change the way we feel when it is elongated to stretch past the nose? How does seeing a pair of footsie pajamas on an adult change our view of the item of clothing? I enjoy creating a subtle visual discomfort."
Strain and Weintraub's collaboration is steeped in Weintraub's technical garment knowledge and construction skills intertwined with Strain's digital illustration and character design background.
Overall, the designers from both shows are eager to have their designs entertain, entice, and titillate audiences leaving them over-stimulated and wanting more.
"I secretly want to make people cry a little bit," admitted Stinnette. "I want them to feel the atmosphere of the music, the masks, and personalities of our universe."
Tickets available at the MICA Bookstore and at Store.MICA.edu. ■
Transcend: Annual Benefit Fashion Show
Saturday, April 14 • 8pm (Public Show) • $15-20
Brown Center: Falvey Hall • 1301 W. Mount Royal Ave.
Milquetoast: Experimental Fashion Event
Saturday, April 21 • 6pm & 9pm • $5-10
St. John's Church • 2640 Saint Paul St.