In 1988, the first official showing of designs created by Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) fashion merchandising students was held in a small classroom where eight participants modeled their own garments before a few faculty members.
This year, the 25th anniversary of that initial affair, 55 CSULB student designers will showcase their talents in front of more than 1,000 individuals, including judges and other industry professionals in the annual Campus Couture Fashion Show.
The event will be take place on Friday, May 10, beginning at 7 p.m., in the university’s Carpenter Performing Arts Center. Considered the largest student-led event on the West Coast and run by students who plan, develop and execute the annual fashion show, it will feature 34 senior designers who will each showcase on the runway the six-to-eight piece collections they have worked on throughout the fall and spring semesters. In addition, 21 junior designers will have the opportunity to present one of their designs.
“The fashion show has grown from eight designers showing a garment each to a few faculty in the FCS (Family and Consumer Sciences) building to a sold out show held each year in the largest venue of its kind on campus and featuring an average of 48 junior and senior designers,” said Suzanne Marshall, who joined CSULB in 1986 as the fashion merchandising instructor. She is the director of CSULB’s Fashion Merchandising and Design Program while also serving as the faculty advisor who works closely with the student coordinators throughout the year on the fashion show.
“This year Mikey Koffman from LA Fashion Week will select the winning senior collection that will be shown at LA Fashion Week in October,” she added. “The two runners-up will have their garments on display in the venue area, which attracts an international audience of buyers and press. We are very excited about this chance to give our program such visibility.”
Heading up the event has been this year’s Campus Couture student committee made up of head coordinator Kristina Kochan, assistant coordinator Kristy Le, design liaison Jennie Xie, public relations coordinator Breana Chew and fundraising coordinator Stephanie Pendleton.
“This year we have 34 senior designers compared to last year when we had only 22, so that’s a huge difference,” said Chew, a senior fashion merchandising and textiles and clothing major from Irvine. “Each one will have six to eight pieces and each one that goes on the runway is from a project we’ve done in class. So they have been approved by the instructor and graded.”
The 25 years of the campus couture show history is not lost on current design students, who give a tip of the hat to those who came before them.
“I think it is awesome that this would have grown so much over the years,” said Chew, who credited Marshall and faculty past and present for the event’s evolution. “It must have been so much fun for the students in that first show just to be in front of all their teachers and being so proud of their designs. Now it’s on such a big scale being in the Carpenter Center that holds more than a thousand people and we have industry professionals who come so it’s a little more stressful. As part of the committee, we have to make sure all the food arrives, all the models check in on time and then we have to get our own models in our clothes ready for the show.”
Models were selected from the more than 300 individuals from across campus who participated in five auditions between October and March, with approximately half of those chosen and placed in a model book/portfolio from which the student designers were able to look through and select from.
“We looked at how they walked and their stage presence,” said Xie, a senior fashion merchandising and textiles and clothing major from San Francisco, who coordinated the model auditions. “About 100 will eventually take part in the show. The models arrive at 8 a.m. and then there are two full dress rehearsals throughout the day to help with timing. So it’s a real commitment on everybody’s part.”
Throughout the event there will be approximately 200 individuals helping backstage. For the hair and makeup needs of the day, the Toni & Guy Academy in Costa Mesa will provide 20-plus hairdressers and 20-plus makeup artists.
The five categories seniors will cover with their designs are draping; computerized flat pattern; knits; reclaimed, where a designer turns a previously worn garment into something else while retaining one recognizable element; and couture techniques, where a designer creates a garment as if they were working for a well-known designer while using many hand sewing techniques.
Included among this year’s judges are Joe Vecchiarelli, owner of Fashion Supplies Inc. and producer of “Fashion Star”; Michael Costello, designer and “Project Runway” alum; Jennifer Backoff, Project Ethos and CSULB alum; Mary Byrd, designer for O’Neill and CSULB alum; and Koffman, CEO of The Gallery L.A. and the producer of LA Fashion Weekend.
“This is great experience for all of us,” said Chew, who admitted that the thought of a model tripping or a zipper breaking at the last minute can cause some anxious moments. “Running an event this size looks good on your resume; you learn about student leadership and how to work with different people, but right now before the show it can get a little nerve-wracking.”
For additional information or for tickets, contact Chew by calling 949/616-5428 or by e-mail at email@example.com.