Runway show featured Earth, Wind and Fire

Runway show featured Earth, Wind and Fire

27 Apr 2016    

Earth, Wind and Fire made an appearance at the Department of Textiles, Merchandising & Fashion Design’s (TMFD) biennial runway fashion show on April 22 at the Nebraska Union. No, it wasn’t the hit band of the 1970s. With a shout out to environmental sustainability, the student organizers played off Earth Day (April 22) and named the 2016 show “Elements,” after the classical pre-scientific elements of the earth.

“We thought elements encompassed the earth and what Earth Day is about,” said Abbey Parodi, a senior from Omaha who helped coordinate the runway show. “That’s what inspired our last design class project, and that’s how we end the show.”

Elements Runway Show 2016
Over 100 student designs were juried by alumnus Jillian Fellers, of Jillian Fellers Bridal in Lincoln, Laura McGrew, head designer of TOMBOY design studio in Kansas City, and Brook Hudson, producer of Omaha Fashion Week. (Photo by Jon Humiston, Umbrella.)

The elements theme was inspiration for some of the student designed and produced fashion that was worn by models in the final set of the show. Each student created a “green” dress in their design class. Designs incorporated creative takes on deforestation, pollution, saving the coral reefs and practices that are “just good for the earth,” explained Parodi. “We just kind of rolled with the schedule on Earth Day and designed the show around it.”

The show is much more than an environmental statement. It is also a lesson in teamwork. While students are responsible for many aspects of the show, they also collaborate closely with TMFD faculty. Another important aspect of the process is involvement of students from other UNL colleges who are vital to the show’s success. Students in the Glenn Korff School of Music, the Hixon-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts, the Hospitality, Restaurant and Tourism Management (HRTM) program, and the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture lend their talents and skills for a remarkable display of student teamwork.

“Working with all these other departments is such a great résumé builder and has really been helpful with students getting internships and jobs after the show,” said Molly McPherson, a graduate student instructor in TMFD. “Three of last year’s seniors are living in New York City now, working in the fashion industry.”

Music students create original music for the different runway segments. Theater students design the lighting and arrange rental of the necessary equipment. HRTM students, also part of the College of Education and Human Sciences, devise a menu to serve at the show and prepare all of the food. The runway committee attends a taste testing session to make sure the menu is right for the evening. Agronomy and Horticulture students from the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources join in creating the décor for pre- and post-show receptions.

“It’s hard work, but absolutely worth it,” says McPherson. “It’s a win-win for all students.”

“There is so much that goes into it that I didn’t even think of,” Parodi said. “So many pieces that go into the runway. I had no idea. It’s going to help all of us work better as a team for one specific goal. One day, in a company I work for, I think I’ll have a better understanding of everything that goes into one project. I think that will help me in my future.”

Elements Runway Show 2016
Mary Mitchell Fashion Excellence Awards are made possible through an endowed gift of Omaha resident Mary Mitchell and her late husband John, who established a fund in 2012 through the University of Nebraska Foundation to underwrite the costs of awards to students participating in departmental competitions including runway shows. (Photo by Jon Humiston, Umbrella.)

This year’s runway show had 140 individual garments entered that were juried prior to the event by a panel of working professionals, including TMFD alumnus Jill Fellers of Lincoln. The winners received the Mary Mitchell Fashion Excellence Award with a cash prize. Results are available on the department website. You can also listen to an NET Radio feature and watch a special video about this year's runway show.

Manta Dress designed by Sarah Wanek
This Manta Dress designed by Sarah Wanek won Best of Show in the Mary Mitchell Fashion Excellence Awards and a $1,000 cash prize. (Photo by Jon Humiston, Umbrella.)
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