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MUF&D’s annual fashion show goes digital

Rather than having an in-person fashion show this year, the Miami University Fashion and Design (MUF&D) club is releasing a feature film. MUF&D is partnering with Openview Cinema, an alumni-owned video production company based in Cincinnati and Nashville, Tenn. to produce the film.


Before COVID-19, the annual fashion show was held in Millet Hall. However, Miami is not allowing anybody to rent the space right now.


MUF&D will release its theme for the show March 10. Each designer chooses their own theme to work from. From those themes, the executive board selects the most appropriate theme to encompass them all.


Ellie Krug, senior and president of MUF&D, says the plans for the fashion show have been ongoing since May 2020. Last year’s show was canceled because of COVID-19, so the executive board was determined to produce something for their 15th annual show.  


“We wanted to create something that had a positive impact on students, an inspiring storyline, and evoke emotions and feelings within people,” Krug said. “A feature film is able to do that and gives designers and models a platform to showcase all their hard work.”


Because filming begins in March, designers need to complete their outfits a month earlier. The feature film is anticipated to be shown in the Armstrong Student Center for the first weekend of May. The entire show will be featured along with some additional scenes, Krug said.


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Brainstorming for the details of the show started about nine months ago, but executive members were unsure about the effects and longevity of the pandemic.


This year’s fashion show will feature a similar number of “icons” — MUF&D’s term for models — and designers. There are 17 designers and 50 icons this year, all of which were chosen the first week of October. Icons or designers do not need to be a part of the organization, but the majority of designers are.


The fashion show will be filmed in one of Armstrong’s pavilions, since the student center already has runways built from previous years’ icon selections. Filming will be conducted under COVID-19 precautions, so icons and designers will be filming in groups of 10 or less.


Designers and icons are excited for this new way to showcase their work.


“We’ve done a lot of thinking about how to show the dedication designers put into their work,” said Kathryn Dillard, senior and design director at MUF&D. “The cameras will be shooting from three different positions to see every aspect of each designer’s garment to show the dedication they put into it.” 


The feature film is a way to accessibly entertain students and present the garments made, Dillard said.


“It is a genius idea. [The film] is a tangible thing to take with me after I graduate,” said Jordyn Thompson, senior and co-modeling director of MUF&D. “I am proud to be part of this organization that will be a blueprint of fashion shows for years to come.”


Thompson, an icon in this year’s show, has walked in one show during her time at Miami and says she loves modeling and what it means for her. She feels she is able to apply the skills that she has learned for life, gaining confidence with every step she makes.


Process of becoming an icon and a designer


In past years, model casting was a two-day event in Armstrong; models would show their runway walk, take headshots and get their measurements taken. For this year, following COVID-19 precautions, auditions were held virtually on YouTube, where individuals had to submit their own application.


Before COVID-19, there were weekly modeling practices with all selected icons. Now, there are time slots on Zoom to see icons walk back and forth to critique their walk, which Thompson says most icons find more effective, timing- and evaluation-wise.


First, measurement fittings were taken virtually by individuals themselves for their icon application. After icons were selected, model measurements were taken in October with COVID-19 in mind. Designers and icons stood outside and wore masks, and designers were encouraged to wear gloves while taking measurements.


In order to become a designer in the show, individuals had to create a portfolio to show their skill set and create a simple garment with basic design features including sleeves, at least one closure (zippers or buttons) and clean, even hems. Before COVID-19, designers would present their work in front of the design directors, but for this year, they dropped off their garments at the MUF&D studio located in Boyd Hall.  


The number of garments produced by each designer varies, and COVID-19 has not limited the amount of garments created. 

In previous shows, designers would create three to six designs. Now, some designers are creating three to four garments, some three to six, and one senior designer, Thomas Gillotti, is designing 10 garments.


The design process begins for designers after they are selected. To start, MUF&D holds workshops to sketch and ‘mood board’ ideas. Then, designers go through the sketch process; designers are asked to create sketches for double the amount of garments they are creating, Thompson said. Designers then go through the drafting process to create looks. After, they create practice garments while sampling textiles and patterns. After all those steps are completed, designers then begin to fit their outfits on icons.


Once test outfits are complete and designers begin their final outfit creation, the design directors will hold their final critique of the garments. However, Thompson says the process can vary by designer.


For this year’s show, Thompson is creating five garments. Designers have less time to create their designs, so many, like Thompson, worked over J-term.


Designers also vary in how they fit their garments on the icons. COVID-19 limits the amount of people who can access the studio, so many designers prefer to work at home and perform fittings at an icon’s house.


“This year, it is harder to get model measurements as models took their own measurements,” Thompson said. “In relation to garment creation, we had to be more creative with how we find the time and spacing to do it.”


MUF&D adapts to a virtual world


“It was hard at first to provide our 650 members with value in everything we did, but membership and attendance has been up,” Krug said. “We are comparing it to previous years because last year nothing was able to happen. Everyone at the university has been welcoming and supportive and working with us.”


As president, Krug has a holistic view of and oversees the organization’s seven different committees.


MUF&D tries to embody an organization that survives and adapts to change; executive members have tried to be flexible, having every backup plan possible to ensure things run smoothly, Krug said.

All events hosted by MUF&D for members and non-members, around 40 events a semester ranging from workshops, to career preparations, to member meetings, and to panels, have been conducted virtually.