RIT’s growing role at an annual event celebrating fashion in Rochester has become an ever-flourishing part of the School for American Crafts’ metal and jewelry design program, inspiring current students and alumni to create at the both breathtaking creations and important links with the industry.
A dazzling display of the fusion of technology, art and design was on full display during RIT’s sixth consecutive year of attendance at Rochester Fashion Week. A total of 13 students and two alumni from RIT’s School for American Crafts (SAC) at the College of Art and Design marched past a sold-out crowd in a large tent next to Rochester’s Midtown Athletic Club.
“I continue to be impressed with the high level of creativity and the tremendous effort our students put into supporting this project,” said Len Urso, Ann Mowris Mulligan Distinguished Professor at SAC. Urso’s “Project Runway” course grew out of RIT’s first participation in Fashion Week in 2013. “I couldn’t be prouder.”
One of its students, Alex Soule, a fourth-year metallurgy student from Penfield, NY, and a leader of this year’s Project Runway, said RIT has built a reputation for its “cutting-edge wearable designs. Which have won over the public over the years.
“The whole idea of the project is to let the students create whatever they want, build the composition based on the colors and shapes they’ve created, and match the music with all of that as well,” said Soule. “This year, we have highlighted many bold contrasts, especially reds and whites.
She created her piece from multicolored gardening nets and wire to create continuous fluid shapes. “I wanted a whimsical message with my organic piece,” said Soule, who also modeled her creation. “It’s a fun opportunity to wear the piece you designed because you know what it embodies and you can show it in your movements. I also modeled my work last year.
RIT has become renowned for pushing innovative creativity to Fashion Week, with avant-garde wearable pieces. This year, as in the past, students used a wide variety of materials, some recycled, to design their pieces, including nets, fabrics, foam, glass, wood, paper, plastic and foil.
Megan Werner, a fourth-year metal and jewelry design student in Mount Airy, Md., Created wearable artwork featuring repeating floral designs.
“I wanted my concept to represent androgyny and the fluidity of human expression,” Werner said. “I think that’s a super relevant question today, people want to express themselves however they want, even if not everyone agrees with it.”
Maddy Schoenfeld, a fourth-year metals and jewelry student from West Milford, NJ, created what she described as “a post-modern piece” made of neograin moss over a larger piece of moss “creating a mathematical piece and parametric with the same pattern repeated hundreds of times.
“It’s a double strip of möbius and it opens up to create these floral shapes,” said Schoenfeld, who helped run the show this year and last year. “I wanted people to see that it’s mathematical, but also super fluid and organic.”
Urso, an internationally recognized and award-winning artist, said that RIT’s annual talent showcase at Rochester Fashion Week has empowered students and alumni from regions such as India, China, Kuwait, Korea as well as the United States to demonstrate their incredible Creativity and Talent.
“I always try to bring in industry professionals because my scorecard is where they go from here,” said Urso, who noted that the program has sent dozens of graduates to Tiffany & Co. . and elsewhere.
Since RIT started participating six years ago, nearly 100 metal and jewelry students have created pieces modeled on the catwalk for Fashion Week, which turned 10 in October. It also marked the third year in a row that Nancy Munson, wife of RIT President David Munson, paraded the catwalk wearing jewelry designed by students.
“Once again, I was very happy that Nancy Munson joined our presentation as she has become an important mentor to the young women in the jewelry design program,” said Urso.
“Project Runway inspired significant growth in the self-esteem and organizational leadership of my students,” he added. “As an educator, I am grateful that Rochester Fashion Week has become an important event within the RIT community. “