COMMUNITY VOICES | Katwalk 2014 delivers impeccable design with a sustainable focus

Photo credit Ashley de los Reyes

It was fast, it was furious — and the show left awe-struck audience members eager for more fashion. Katwalk: Fathom 2014 at The O'Shaughnessy on May 17 showcased original work from over 30 students in the apparel, merchandising and design program at St. Catherine University.

Sustainable practice is incorporated at every level of the program curriculum, from re-purposing textiles to creating looks from recycled material. Each year, this sustainability commitment is revealed in many of the designs featured at the Katwalk.

The show opened with a series of re-purposed designs. As part of their "apparel construction and analysis" course, sophomore designers were tasked with creating a new look from an already existing textile product. Stephanie Merlak's design made from neckties (pictured here) was one of the clear stand-outs this year.

St Kate's partnered with ArtScraps on an assignment for juniors in the "patternmaking I" course. The class was tasked with creating a five-ensemble mini-collection using whatever material happened to be available the day they went to ArtScraps.

With a sustainable twist on Project Runway's unconventional material challenge, junior Megan Buysee created an additional look made from pop can tabs (pictured here) that she showed at Katwalk.

"Megan chose to extend her sustainable design work beyond the required class projects — she exemplifies personal commitment to sustainable thinking in design," says Anupama Pasricha, associate professor and chair of the apparel, merchandising and design program.
All featured senior designers were challenged with including at least one look in their collection that was "zero waste" — a technique that eliminates textile waste at the design stage by planning and arranging pattern pieces like a jigsaw puzzle.
Featured senior designers

Christine Bergmann '14 presented "Gardenia Street," a spring/summer collection of daywear that mixes feminine and urban pieces. Inspiration for the line was drawn from city streets, including the colors, prints and overall mood of the line.

Judging from the applause, one of the audience favorites of the evening was "Anacapri" a beach/swimwear line by Catherine Huss. She was inspired by the vivid shades of teal and purple while visiting the island of Capri, Italy. The one-piece suits in her collection are designed to reminisce vintage and retro femininity while allowing a woman to look forward with confidence and class.

Inspired by northern Minnesota, the "Sticks & Stones" fall/winter collection by Maddie Skaalrud featured plaids, wools and other heavy fabrics. The daywear collection incorporates sporty elements with feminine silhouettes in colors that are muted and neutral to have an earthier feel.

The fall/winter collection "Velveteen Rose" by Emily Trevor is inspired by her mother's grim childhood. The collection's dark color palette, multiple textures and playful silhouettes combine to evoke a broken innocent milieu while remaining feminine and wearable. The pieces throughout the collection are meant to be worn alone or layered in order to address different climactic regions and styling needs.

"East Romance" by Pachia Vang '14 is a spring/summer collection of evening wear featuring pastel colors, floral prints and lightweight fabrics that give a very feminine and romantic style. The line is inspired by Asian elements taken from tradition Japanese kimonos and Korean hanboks that are incorporated into a more modern look.

Junior designers showcased mini-collections during Katwalk. This year's designers included Janet Bishop, Megan Buysee, Alisha Caldera, Mandy Kaczmarek and Xee Vang.

Each year, top performing junior and senior designers are recognized. This year's Junior Design Award went to Megan Buysee, who showed her mini-collection inspired by Japanese culture. The award is given to a junior designer who has worked through all course requirements in a timely way and gone beyond that to create a larger collection.

The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) recently featured Buysee, a student athlete who was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma after her first year in college. Buysee not only continued to design clothing during her hospital recovery, but also returned this year to competitive tennis and helped bring her team to the MIAC playoffs.

Emily Trevor received this year's Senior Design Award, which is given to the student whose amazing collection is creatively patterned, immaculately constructed and finished in the required time frame. Trevor showed a thirteen-look collection last fall at MNFashion's "The Shows," based on her junior collection from last year's Katwalk. She currently works for Tara LaTour, a bridal couture designer, as an assistant designer and dressmaker.

Fashion-lovers will have more opportunities to see work by this year's Katwalk designers , who drew the attention of, and invitations from, the local fashion industry. Buysee was invited to show at Revolt 2 Rock Fashion on Friday, June 13. Emily Trevor will show at Envision Fall 2014 and Maddie Skaalrud was invited to meet with the organizers of MNFashion.

St. Kate's Fashion Association, a student organization, coordinated all aspects of the annual Katwalk from the design of print materials and event marketing, to staging and music.

View more photos from the event on St. Kate's flickr channel.

Sharon Rolenc works for St. Catherine University in the Office of Marketing & Communications where she serves as managing editor of St. Kate's Newswire and as primary social media manager for their official University channels.

CORRECTION 5/21/2014: This article was not originally labeled as a Community Voices piece. The correction has been made.

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    Sharon Rolenc