The unique structure of the semester system at Suffolk University meant students there had only five weeks to conceive and construct their outfits for the IIDANE Fashion Show. But what started as a time crunch turned into a creative opportunity for the Suffolk team. “It put us behind the eight ball, definitely,“ says Mary Ann George, now a graduate student who was the project’s leader. “But it was a nice challenge. We put the theme word—reflection—up on a board and started spinning off that concept.”
Tamara Farah, one of the student designers, who also volunteered at the show itself, says an idea of a duality between being confined and being free appealed to everyone. “We decided to have one model represent freedom and the other captivity and mirror each other,” she says.
“Nicole suggested that imprisonment can be a time of personal reflection,” says George, referring to Nicole Peacock, another interior design student who participated in the project. “And we all agreed that freedom is the other side of captivity.” The resulting two designs just needed materials that spoke to their respective lightness and weight.
The team had learned early on that Clarke would be their sponsor and soon had a variety of convection bulbs, refrigerator and oven door handles, thermometer probes and a Sub-Zero coolant vent to craft into show-stopping outfits. “We chose heavy metal bars for Captivist and light plastic bars for Freedom,“ says George. “And we gave Captivist the vent, which was both figuratively and literally heavy.”
“Light bulbs were on Freedom’s head to make her mind clearer,” adds Mira Abouseif, one of the design/build team. What everyone soon realized was that the unconventional materials truly allowed them to manifest their concept. “The materials couldn’t have been more perfect,“ says Peacock.
Elizabeth Ghiseline, the Suffolk Department of Art and Design Instructor who oversaw the students, felt the two looks were very well balanced. “There was a great democratic use of materials and the results were amazing,” she says. Heather Beland, marketing manager at Clarke loved the fashions as well. “Their passion and creativity certainly stood out,” she said.
Even non-design students relished the opportunity to participate in the show. Diondra Benders, a law and psychology major at Suffolk, walked the runway as Freedom. “It was a bit scary at first,” she says, “then it felt really good. I loved the way my train moved with me.“
Both Abouseif and Farah liked the chance to think outside the box as designers. “It’s cool to use materials we use in interior spaces and put them on runway,” says Farah. “Innovative pieces of design come from materials used in different spaces than they were intended for,” says Abouseif. “The fashion show allows us to expand our minds on how we could use these materials in the future.”