FAST Spring 2011

With the final weeks bringing a close to another Berkeley spring, Fashion and Student Trends (FAST) had another intimate and fabulous fashion event, celebrating the talent of the Cal fashion community and the organization’s fifth year of operation. As the weather turned warm, the designers decided to bare all and “expose” themselves, as per this semester’s theme, showing off their talents and the emotionality and intention behind each of their garments.

The first segment opened with collections inspired by everything from the wine country to urban basketball in Brookyln, from the animal kingdom to the elements. Ekaterina Semonchuk opened the show, her work a cohesion of animal prints and eccentric colors and voluminous shapes reminiscent of the looks of a child’s birthday party, but the character and construction of each dress ensured that Semonchuk’s collection would be more memorable than ephemeral kindergarten gatherings, proving to be youthful in look but mature in all things style.

Semonchuk’s unconventional “Animal Instinct”

Zoni Rockoff followed with a collection reportedly influenced by Marimekko’s fabric design and the outfits of Monica Vitti in L’Avventura. Retro in look and feel, the designer was able to produce dresses that were distinctly crafted so as not to resemble the trendy parade of 60s ensembles inspired by Mad Men. Rockoff managed to take a very well rehearsed style and inject her own personality and definition into her reverential collection, the nature patterns hand-printed onto the fabric being particularly impressive. One dress—a blue- and black-striped garment—was especially sleek and appealing and spoke to Rockoff’s personality and motif.

Rockoff’s retro romance

Duo Emma Bindloss and Lamia Mamoon sent out earth, wind, fire, and water onto the runway, using the classical elements as the basis for their first ever collection for a FAST fashion show. Sassy and strong, each with something to say, the four dresses were not so much boho but a natural force to be reckoned with. Their “wind” representation was quite creative, a piece that was as classy as it was rebellious. Bindloss and Mamoon produced a fantastic first offering for the event.

With wine and the roaring 20s on the mind, Kacey Anderson sent “Cabernet” onto the catwalk—a pristine and playful collection ruled by vintage aesthetic and fringe. Cohesive and cultivated with intention, Anderson created a look that was refreshing and refined. In the description of her collection, the designer communicated the impact of her art clearly—“… A sexy and effortless collection unforgettable to all who experience it.”

Bindloss and Mamoon scorched the runway with “The Elements” and Anderson’s “Cabernet” would make any wine aficionado smile

John Kim and Jennifer Huang were showstoppers with their “Urban Basketball” collection, an exhibition disruptive in its fierceness and simplicity complimented by an equally fabulousness soundtrack mash-up featuring Gershwin, Phoenix, The Velvet Underground, and Deerhoof. The garments felt as urbane as haute couture and, even with a limited color scheme and a handful of fabric choices, the entire collection had swagger.

Kim and Huang schooled the audience with court couture

“Animal,” a four-piece collection by Rachel Davis and Stephanie Jue, was an end cap to the first segment and was another edgy celebration of style and seams. Peacock feathers helped unify each ensemble and, while Ms. Davis and Ms. Jue are probably very humble individuals, their pieces were boisterous and flashy—but still classy and not over-the-top—like the bird that helped inspire the collection. The fourth and fifth garments were real winners, the second-to-last piece featuring joyful cufflink-like leggings and the final garment a whimsical and impressive dress that married risk to sophistication.

The second segment started with Sherrie Hang’s five-piece collection that was quirky and eclectic, two words the designer used to describe her style. In addition to the garments, which incorporated floral prints and blue snowflake-covered nylon, the designer’s taste and meticulous efforts were reflected in the shoes paired with each outfit, covered with the same fabrics Hang used to construct the dresses. This detail may have been small, but it was absolutely delightful, and made her collection feel comprehensive and distinguished from head to toe.

(Top Row) Despite the abundance of feathers, I’m sure Davis and Jue are not cocky designers
(Bottom Row) The detailing of the shoes is a sweet treat; thank you, Mrs Hang

Nikki Dance and Miraya Berke’s “Candy Land” collection spanned eras and flavors and was a true joy to watch—the models, who interacted as they passed each other on the catwalk, were as animated as the phantasmagoric dresses, and the human energy brought flirtation and life to the garments. The designers cleverly incorporated a remix of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” into their show, and their creations brought a level of lightheartedness and delight to the often-somber runway and beautifully changed the pace of the momentum of the second segment.

Cotton candy, rock candy, and Sourpatch—oh my!

But somber does not mean heavy or burdensome, as demonstrated in Rod Ghaemmaghami’s “Liminal,” a collection about fragmentation and based on the ideas of women overcoming their hardships and flaws. The garments were chic and effectively gave voice to each of the female models, each outfit feminist and feminine, defined by an edge that was not unwelcome but rather a bold design choice that complimented Ghaemmaghami’s creative intention.

(Top Row) Professor Judith Butler would have something to say about the feminist themes in this collection (Bottom Row) Su is disparate and fabulous

Gina Su’s “One Love, Summer Sophistication,” was yet another example of styling done right with the jewelry, make-up, and sunglasses completing the designer’s 70s-inspired collection. Although R.I.O’s “One Heart” complimented the garments on the catwalk, the individual looks spoke to unifying the seemingly disparate. Many of the designs, especially the first and the fourth outfits, created harmony that was surprising yet tasteful, while the third and fifth pieces easily brought smiles to the audience with their lovely, summery symmetry.

The show concluded with Jaymie Ngov’s “Alleys Agleam,” a bold collection that was inspired by the dark side of Tokyo. With the neon colors, creative layering, and harsh angles, this collection was rebellious in nature but represented the strengths of all of the collections of the evening, showing the potential and the power of a person who can seam. Two pieces from “Alleys Agleam” were especially fascinating, one garment looking like a futuristic visioning of The Scarlet Letter with an angular red web that resembled a gigantic A set against a black halter top and pants combo, and another piece playing off the neon green/yellow often used in caution signs. This latter design was simple and elegant, but unexpected in terms of the color, thus the “caution” homage was fitting in how it prepared the audience for the dual grittiness and grace of the collection.

Beware the edge. All photography by Stephen Sun.

FAST’s spring 2011 fashion show was a night of indulgence for the fashion community that not only paid respect to the designers and style aficionados on campus, but in a way also spoke to the strength of the individual voice as it relates to unification and a larger ensemble. While putting an outfit together or sewing a garment may make a statement, the FAST fashion event demonstrated the importance of showcasing a collection of voices, whether they be feminist or creative, transgressive or transformational. So, in a number of words, the show was very chic and very Berkeley, but with a promise and an allusion to something more. Well done, everybody.

Scott Hovdey
BARE Reporter

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