From the Classroom to the Runway

Young Designers Blossom at This Year’s CSU Fashion Show

Colorado State University’s top-tier fashion design program, talented undergraduates with a creative flame within them, and committed professors dedicated to conveying the ins and outs of the industry – these elements create the perfect storm for a runway presentation showcasing handmade fashion collections bursting with potential.

Featuring striking silhouettes, innovative designs, and energetic runway performances, this year's fashion show is the culmination of over a year's worth of hard work by CSU’s Fashion Design and Merchandising graduating seniors.

This department tradition is a rewarding capstone experience for students to showcase their design visions and expertise before waving farewell to the renowned Department of Design and Merchandising, and onto the real world of fashion design.

This year’s presentation of the senior portfolios was entitled “All in Bloom,” representing the frivolity of the 70’s – complete with groovy patterns, an overload of florals, shiny disco balls, and a ton of neon colors. Following a two-year hiatus, the show premiered in person in the club room at Canvas Stadium on Friday, May 6th. The show featured 14 distinct collections, demonstrating to the surrounding Fort Collins community just how stellar the department is.

Excitement reigned as more than two dozen models walked the runway, highlighting not only the accomplishments of student fashion designers and event committee members, but also an appreciation for the power of design in uplifting and empowering one another.

They say style is a way to say who you are without having to speak – and this is certainly true for senior Greg Nixon who curated three unique outdoor wear looks inspired by his personal passion for the slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

From Nixon’s perspective, fashion is a beautiful mix of self expression and functionality. He believes there is always room to innovate a garment to make life easier.

“With my specific collection, the functionality of it was imperative to the success of it. I spent a lot of time researching what it takes to make a functional outer garment – looking through all of my jackets, talking to people on the mountain and asking ‘What do you wish your jacket had?’”explains Nixon as he breaks down his creative process. 

As Nixon explored over 50 different color palettes, he strategically aimed to make them pop against a white or green background, depending on whether one is in the trees or in the snow. “I finally found the ones that I liked and that really pushed the whole scope of this collection way further.”

The ultimate end goal was to create looks that help skiers excel at what they love to do, whilst blending natural and fluorescent colors to increase visibility and safety in potentially dangerous environments.

A fusion of groovy, eclectic, and forward-thinking vibes permeated the room as Nixon's color blocking apparel collection debuted at the show. The energy in the room instantly soared as three male models strutted the runway in Nixon’s collection titled “Bloome.” 

The collection showed no trails of error and a keen eye for greater practicality in design. “It’s all about the technical work and that's how you make it beautiful. Although there were a couple pivots that I made, overall, it turned out pretty much what I dreamed about.”

The success of the fashion show would not have been possible without the guidance of Assistant Professor in the Department of Design and Merchandising, Kevin Kissel. As an expert in apparel and textile design, Kissel instructs the capstone course, where students construct their capstone collections – that is, spending hours and hours with the sewing machine, perfecting their visions.

He is greatly appreciated not only for his tremendous insights on garment design, but also for the way he encourages other students to pursue their dreams. “He just wants everybody to be able to produce something that they've thought about – that's really big for him and that meant a lot to me,” says Nixon.

Despite the conclusion of this year’s fashion show, the Department of Design and Merchandising is one step ahead, continuing to plan for the growth and betterment for the upcoming years. 

“It’s expanding a lot,” says Kissel. “We’re bringing in new faculty with different expertise in different areas. With the Nancy Richardson Design Center, we have new technology – it’s like being a kid in the candy store! Students are able to design their own textile prints that can be printed off on fabric in that location, they can laser cut their own buttons if they want to – so having that really elevates the possibilities of their collection, they can do a lot more with that technology."

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