By Meredith Pratt | Staff Writer, Video by Julia Lawrenz | LTVN Executive Producer
During the spring semester, Baylor apparel design and product development students host a fashion show featuring the senior’s collections. The 2020 fashion show theme “fashion is for everyone” was intended to reach all students at Baylor with an interest in fashion, regardless if they are studying it or not.
With the shift to online classes and students now scattered across various states and countries, the 2020 show has been cancelled. The new set of circumstances has brought together directors and designers to figure out the best method of showcasing the collections in a way that will reach a wide audience like it was originally intended to.
Shreveport, La., senior Melanie Pace is the marketing director for the fashion show and also runs the Baylor Fashion Instagram. She said that while she is disappointed not to see the looks on the runway, she is hoping designers will be able to share their work through online look-books.
“The designers have such good stories to tell,” Pace said. “I’m seeing this more as a creative challenge and less as an obstacle. We can kind of be edgy and cutting edge in the way the we approach how we do this.”
Pace said they have returned the money to those who purchased tickets earlier in the semester and that many people ended up donating the money back to the apparel design program. The directors had originally hoped to earn enough funds to create aformat for the show that could be recreated every year.
“I wanted to establish a very firm maintainable plan, so that, when we’re all gone, people can come in behind us and pretty easily replicate what we’ve been doing,” Pace said.
San Antonio senior Melissa Nowitzky is one of several students who prepared a collection of clothes to be displayed at the show. She said she is seeing both positives and negatives in the show’s cancellation.
“This year I was doing menswear looks, and I’ve never done menswear, and I was super nervous and stressed out about it, but also I’m upset that I’m not able to fully showcase my collection in the way that I wanted to,” Nowitzky said.
To make the workload easier, the designers’ collections are now only required to have three complete looks. Nowitzky was able to rent a few machines from the school inorder to finish her pieces at home. She said that all of the designers are learning a lesson in flexibility as they look for ways to present their work.
“We’re more open to being able to share our collection in any way that we can, because we worked really hard on it,” Nowitzky said.
Palestine junior Lauryn James is another designer who was set to have her collection displayed in the show, as she will be graduating in December.
She said the directors are thinking about bringing back the seniors’ collections to be displayed in the show the following year.
James estimated that she has spent about 20 to 30 hours a week on her collection this semester. She said the shelter-in-place orders have allowed her to devote even more time to finishing her looks.
“I’ve had so much time to pour into the collection,” James said. “I’m at the point where I’m seeing it come to life.”
James said she has completed five different looks, consisting of three dresses, a pantsuit set and a skirt and top combination. She also previously designed a jacket for herself to wear to the event.
Her collection’s theme is “celebration” and contains looks that can be worn to weddings, graduations and birthday parties.
“I wanted people to feel celebrated in my clothes,” James said.
In order to complete the final touches to the collection, James ordered supplies online and was able to go into Joann fabrics, which is currently open to provide supplies for sanitary masks, after waiting in line for 45 minutes. She has also reached out to neighbors for materials such as thread.
Although she has been able to work on the clothes with her own sewing machine at home, James said she has missed the environment at Baylor working in her class of eight designers. She said she still meets with her classmates through weekly Zoom conferences where they show off their progress to each other.
“It’s nice being in the presence of people who know what you’re talking about,” James said. “We inspire each other, and we bounce off of each other so much.”
All of the designers’ collections began as pictures on mood boards which were later expanded through PowerPoint presentations. Next, designs were sketched, and patterns were made by computer or by hand. Mock-ups were crafted in muslin material and were then fitted on models before being created in the actual fabric.
Alexandra Davis, recent Baylor graduate and creative director of the fashion show, presented her collection last year and is now looking to the fashion world to see how famous designers are approaching their shows during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“It’s interesting to watch the industry itself, because a lot of shows are supposed to be happening right now,” Davis said. “I think the industry is going to shift a lot.”
Davis is working with Pace and the designers to figure out the best way to present their collections online without the models or technology that would have been available on campus.
“You don’t have to spend any money if you’re doing digital everything, so that’s a huge plus,” Davis said.
Disappointed but not deterred, Davis and Pace said they think this experience will strengthen the designers in the long run.
“I think it’ll just be something that we’ll all be able to relate to … that time fashion completely changed,” Davis said.