A crowd of roughly 1,000 people filled Freeborn Hall on Saturday as students of the Runway Designers Club presented Warped, the annual Picnic Day fashion show.
The sold-out show, just one of the many campus events that day, featured the collections of 22 students from the design program who created their work for class assignments, as well as 17 single-garment designers.
Those who wished to view the show faced looping ticket lines. At around 2 p.m. the lights dimmed, the music started and the crowd went silent.
“There were more students than usual, so that was a good thing,” said Tim McNeil, chair of the design program at UC Davis. “I’ve seen past shows, but nearly every collection that I saw being shown was [at] a very high standard.”
Zoe Fujii designed and created the first of the signature collections, titled “Flower Punk.” Her project began with sketching at the end of summer, working on the garments until they were shown the day of, even sewing models into their dresses back stage.
“There’s always a lot of last minute stuff that has to be done,” said Fujii, a junior design major. “Back stage was really exciting. I couldn’t really watch my models go down the runway, because we’re not allowed to peek, but hearing the music and hearing everybody cheer – all of the hard work was worth it. It was a really great feeling.”
Fujii’s collection featured recycled album covers and fabrics digitally printed on the Mimaki printer, a feature of the design program unique to UC Davis.
Liz Murray, whose collection “Tactile Hues” came toward the middle of the show, created her own materials as well. Murray presented colorful crocheted vests and jackets on models covered head to toe in white.
“A lot of it was built from raw materials. Two pieces of mine started with yarn completely,” Murray said. “It was cool. I liked starting with nothing there and adding color and form to it.”
Though Murray said she was self-taught with many of the elements used in her collection, it was the open structure of the class that enabled her success.
“A lot of what was fun and challenging about the collections class is it was an independent study,” Murray said. “It was an independent exploration and I got to challenge myself and figure it out alone.”
McNeil said he was impressed by the creativity.
“The design program is unique in having research, creative and technical parts to it. [The fashion show is] a good snapshot of the design program in that sense,” McNeil said.
“Pretty sophisticated collections come from undergraduates that are forces to be reckoned with. It’s a chance for us to show some of the high degree work that happens in the design program in a very public way.”
Fujii said members of the audience seemed to agree.
“I was hearing this mostly from my family and friends, but everything has been really positive. It was nice to get that type of exposure and feedback to know that people appreciate what you’ve been working on,” Fujii said.
Collections will be shown in San Francisco later in the quarter. But for many participants, the event had lasting effects.
“I wasn’t expecting to figure out so much about myself. And I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with my pieces the way I did,” Murray said. “After this experience, I will definitely explore [fashion design]. I want to keep learning and I want to keep making.”
BECKY PETERSON can be reached at email@example.com.