Download as a PDF: Live From the Lincoln Center: The Road to Elemental
Each year, the graduates of the apparel production program at CSU put together their capstone collection to present in a fashion show at The Lincoln Center in Fort Collins.
The show happens each spring, and is an opportunity for students in the department to get hands-on experience putting on a sold-out event that draws both the CSU and Fort Collins communities.
With the theme, “Elemental,” this year’s show will take place Friday, April 1 at 7:30 p.m.
This year’s show is run by two co-directors, junior McKenna Semin and senior Annalee Webb, both apparel and merchandising students.
Semin was approached by Carol Engel-Enright after the show last spring to direct this year’s show. For last year’s show, Semin served as the garment and modeling committee chair, and for the 2014 show, she volunteered backstage, helping with the garments and models.
“I was interested in taking more of a leadership role and overseeing the whole process,” Semin said.
Semin agreed and she and Engel-Enright began looking for a co-director. Webb, who was the publicity and promotions committee chair last year, worked with Semin in the past, and they had worked well together so they brought her on as co-director.
Semin and Webb decided to divide the responsibilities of the show so it wouldn’t be so overwhelming.
“I’ve taken on more of the role of managing tickets and sponsorships and making sure all of the sponsors get the correct promotion both on social media and in the program. I have also taken charge of putting the program together and contacting the designers,” Semin said. “Annalee has taken on the role of connecting with committee chairs, and communicating with The Lincoln Center specifically about ticketing.”
In addition to the directors, who are pursuing an independent study with Engel-Enright to put on the show, there are also students taking a class focusing on the planning and production of the show.
DM 474, Fashion Show Production and Event Planning, is an upper-division elective class in the Department of Design and Merchandising that gives students the opportunity to be a part of planning the show each spring.
The class combines both lecture style teaching and hands-on learning in the form of applying what they learn in class to put the show together.
A lot of technical elements are involved with putting on a fashion show, such as developing a walking pattern for the models, ordering the garments, and developing a music selection.
The class is taught by Engel-Enright, who uses her real world experience in the fashion business to advise the directors and the students to produce a fashion show. Engel-Enright is also the internship coordinator for the department; she works with students to get internships in fashion Meccas such as New York and Los Angeles.
The show is put together by four committees with a specific focus: garment and modeling, publicity and promotions, stage and decor, and VIP and sponsorships.
Semin wanted to improve the collaboration in the class as she felt that it has been rather segregated in the past.
“I really wanted to cultivate a community of creativity,” Semin said.
The garment and modeling committee is responsible for deciding the show order, holding model calls, choosing the models, holding fittings for the models, organizing the dry run and dress rehearsal, coordinating who the judges are going to be, deciding the walking patterns of the models on stage, organizing all the models, volunteers and dressers backstage during the show and working with the designers on changes that need to be made with the garments to make sure that the show flows well and looks the best it possibly can.
The show boasts over 50 models in a wide range of categories, from bridal to menswear to children’s to plus-size. The show features 22 collections, almost double what they had last year.
Semin is excited for the greater inclusiveness of different body types, as it gives a new meaning to the word “model.”
The model call is a vital part of the show, as it gives way to how the clothes are presented on the runway. The model call took place over two days, Feb. 9 and 10 and drew about 80 auditions, comprised of CSU students, local high school students and children.
At the model call, those auditioning got their measurements taken, are photographed and given a number. Once it is their turn, they enter in the room in pairs and walk before the garment and modeling committee who makes the final selection. The music starts and the models are asked to follow a walking pattern, posing in front of the committee so they can evaluate their walk and pose to see if they would fit into the show.
“We are always looking to improve, and this year we decided that the model’s personality and stage presence was important based on feedback we received from last year’s show,” said Mandy Todor, apparel and merchandising senior and head of the garment and modeling committee.
But this is just round one for the models; they aren’t officially selected until the garment fittings. The collections are complete, so it is just a matter of seeing what fits and looks good.
“Making sure that the clothes fit the models is a big part of the show aesthetically,” Todor said. “We also wanted to make sure that the best model was in each garment.”
In addition to the clothes themselves, Todor and her committee are responsible for communicating with the designers, many of whom are interning in different parts of the country.
A challenge for the committee is the model selection. The seniors finish their collection in the fall and photograph them, choosing particular models to wear them. The designers often want the same models to wear them for the show.
“A lot of the designers wanted the models that wore their clothes in the shoots they did last fall to be the same ones the wear the clothes in the fashion show,” Todor said. “We couldn’t always have the models in what they originally wore. Sometimes the fit changed if the model had gained or lost weight, and other times it was show order and the amount of time needed to change that dictated who could wear what.”
Close knit with the garment and modeling committee is stage and decor. With the show being at a venue outside CSU, a lot is involved with conveying the theme of the show, elemental.
The stage and decor committee is responsible for transforming the word “elemental” into a tangible set that the models will be walking on the stage of The Lincoln Center. Additionally, the committee is also responsible for choosing the music for each section of the show that correlates with the theme of that section.
A major innovation for this year’s set design is constructing it in the shape of a ribbon so the models will more naturally flow through the walking pattern while showing off the clothing.
“Because it is more of an organic shape it relates to the raw beauty that is elemental,” said McKenzie Miller, apparel and merchandising junior, head of the stage and decor committee. “Other aspects that we have are textures and colors that are found in the many wonders of the world.”
For Miller and her committee, they hope to convey the essence of raw beauty and include several different aspects of that raw beauty to show the audience they the world is the way it is.
A challenge for Miller and her committee is working with The Lincoln Center. Since it is an outside venue, more coordination is needed to make sure everyone is on the same page with the show. The committee also has to hire out a lot of outside help to make the show run smoothly.
The committee is comprised of not only design and merchandising students, but also theatre students. These students have experience with stage design, which is an asset for the show. It also helps with getting students with different majors involved in the show.
The show is sold out almost every year, and cannot do so without the work of the publicity and promotions committee, who are responsible for running all of the social media accounts for the fashion show –Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat – by providing regular updates regarding the show as well as answering any inquiries people might have about the show.
“As a committee we take great pride in ensuring that the show will be sold out, as it is almost every year,” said Sarah Peeler, senior apparel and merchandising major and head of the publicity and promotions committee.
Peeler and her committee have worked with Jeff Dodge, CSU’s communications coordinator to write a press release to get the word about the show out to the Fort Collins community.
The show also blocked out a section of about 95 tickets for the Department of Design and Merchandising’s high school visit day. This will encourage students and their parents from the community to attend. Local businesses who are sponsors for the show also receive tickets to the show, and many of claimed them, raising community awareness. Faculty and alumni are personally invited to this show (along with Tony Frank), as well as the students in the class and the designers.
New promotional efforts this year are the usage of the display cases in the LSC’s Hallery displaying some of the fashions; the creation of the CSU Fashion Show Snapchat account; and advertising on the digital screens around campus. Additionally, the committee is working with Denver Style Magazine by contributing a weekly blog post from a different perspective of the show to publish on their site.
The committee also works to promote the work of the designers by featuring their work each week on the show’s social media accounts. The show serves as a accumulation of what the designers have learned here at CSU, while also bridging the gap between education and career for the graduates.
“When we share the thoughts, and creative processes of these designers, we are sharing what inspired the creation of the show,” Peeler said. “However, it shows that the community feels inspired by these students as well.”
One of the most interactive activities the committee has been a part of is utilizing events on the Plaza. They hosted one event on March 8, featuring a free Flashbox photo booth, and then another one on March 30. The fashion show is also taking over the “Proud To Be A CSU Ram” Instagram account the week of the show.
Tied in with publicity and promotions is VIP and sponsorships.
Local businesses such as Rain Boutique, Cira Ltd., White Balcony, Dark Horse Wine,Breckenridge Brewery, and BBVA Compass are sponsors for the show. Many of these sponsors donate items for the VIP reception, including items for the silent auction or complimentary food and drink.
The sponsorships are important in that they help to fund the show to be able to make it a successful production. They also show community support for CSU and the Department of Design and Merchandising.
The committee gets experience in reaching out to businesses and formally propose a sponsorship offer, which becomes a useful skill to have beyond college.
Along with sponsorships comes the VIP reception. The reception happens before the show starts for special guests invited to the show, such as sponsors, faculty and alumni. However, the tickets are priced at $50 compared to the $10-$15 price tag for students.
Semin hopes to improve the VIP reception this year by providing guests with a live preview of the garments before they walk the runway.
The committees and directors work incredibly hard to produce a successful show year after year. For the students in the class, it is less about a fashion show and more about an experience to learn about themselves and hopefully take something away from it that will help them in their future at CSU and beyond.
“This experience is not just about fashion; it’s about learning about yourself and presenting yourself professionally,” Semin said.
For both Semin and Engel-Enright, the show will be an exciting experience to see the next generation of designers and what they have to present.
“Elemental will bring diverse perspectives of fashion and style to the stage on Friday. This year we have great models and unique collections,” Engel-Enright said. “Planning for the show and the stage design includes theatre students and staff which expands the entertainment value and aesthetics of the show. I know everyone who attends will enjoy the experience of sight, sound, and emotions.”
Tickets for the show are $10-$15 for students and $50 for VIP and premium seats. Tickets can be purchased online at The Lincoln Center.
Originally published for College Avenue Magazine.