Miami University Fashion & Design’s (MUF&D) 17th annual fashion show, “Ethereal,” took place Saturday, April 22, in Millett Hall. Expectations going into the show were already high but were still exceeded.
Ethereal, as a concept, is incredibly open-ended. Ethereal is anything that is light, precious, delicate or otherworldly. While all of the pieces and collections were unique in their own right, they all followed the theme cohesively.
MUF&D is Miami’s largest student organization with more than 800 members. Students can choose what committee they join, such as the modeling committee, the finance committee or the public relations/marketing committee. The fashion show is an end-of-year production centered around one central theme, and student designers are hand-picked to create collections that relate to the theme. These student designers then pick their models from a pool of hundreds of students that audition in the fall semester who do not have to be in MUF&D.
This year’s fashion show has not been the first to get this much traction – on April 26, MUF&D won Miami’s Student Engagement Activities and Leadership (SEAL) award for “Event of the Year” for its 2022 show, “Oasis.”
In junior marketing and fashion double major Halle Maskery’s collection, “Esthétique,” silk was a staple fabric. Simple and classy silk trousers and a matching tulle tank top stole the show, taking the audience back to the golden age of Hollywood. The silhouettes were timeless, and the main colors of the collection were cream, pearl and black. Images of attending a Parisian opera or sitting in a jazz club with a martini in hand flooded my mind when the models all came together to showcase the five-piece collection.
“Serotonin,” sophomore marketing and fashion double major Ian Kellogg’s collection, took a unique approach to the theme. Oversized silhouettes displayed colorful, baggy garments reminiscent of a 1980s cartoon with a Walkman in-hand. Pastels danced around the stage while upbeat music played, really embodying the meaning of serotonin. A playful set of clothing, parachute pants and button-up shirts were defining features of the collection, and a sporty element elevated the clothes with a plethora of pockets.
Marketing and fashion double major Katie Ellsworth’s “The Manner of Dress” was a notable collection as it juxtaposed the pastels and pearly whites with black leather, denim and nudes. Hole’s hit song “Violet” played, and out came the star of this collection: a two-piece denim set adorned in bows. It was almost like Dante’s “Inferno” out of the entire “Divine Comedy.” Grunge, yet feminine, “The Manner of Dress” had artistic contrasting aesthetics compared to the aesthetics of the collections prior.
Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter
Straight out of a dream, junior fashion and art education double major Maeve Vulcan’s “Fanciful” was like playing dress-up with your favorite dolls. Defining features of this collection were chunky, Bratz-like heels, patchwork and corsets. It gave an element of innocence to the show, and the whimsy seemed straight out of a fairytale. The doll-like structure of these outfits seemed like perfect attire for a tea party. The soft pastels and dainty patterns tied together perfectly to create such a fanciful collection.
One of the highlights of the entire show was senior speech pathology and audiology major Emma Neuhauser’s “M.I.A. (Mood In Ambivalence).” Denim, patchwork and oversized materials came together to create something out of “Peter Pan.” The showstopper had to have been the giant mesh hoop skirt. The crowd gasped as the model stepped on stage, tying the skirt together with a whimsical-and-goth-esque corset top. The outfit showed how versatile the theme of “Ethereal” and the creativity of our student designers can be.
“December,” the collection by senior interactive media studies major Jillian Bihl, had a yin-and-yang dynamic as groups of two models walked the runway in complimenting outfits. The theme for “December” seemed to be neutrals, earthy tones, chunky knit sweaters and silk. The mismatching materials added fantasy notes to the collection, and the unisex nature of the pieces elevated the collection to larger heights. It all seemed worthy of a “Vogue” cover. The knits and neutrals just screamed cottage-core in the best way possible. The models showcasing the pieces, however, made the clothing come to life as personality and spunk were shown through their walks and poses.
Senior arts management and arts entrepreneurship Helen Figi’s collection “E Natura Eveni, in Naturam Redibo,” brought me back to my childhood with “Pixie Hollow,” specifically the character Silvermist. Shimmery blue and green fabrics embodied Earth, water and nature. A green two-piece set with a matching sarong could’ve belonged in the garden of Eden with ferns and plumeria flowers. Simple and elegant accessories complimented the bold colors by making them look magical and ethereal.
“Space Dive,” sophomore media and communication and fashion double major Emma Gaskill’s collection, was larger than life. A sky blue mini dress with matching gloves was reminiscent of the fembots in “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery,” and a glittery black tunic with a sheer, fiery cape represented a comet in the sky. The fantastical elements in “Space Dive” added another dimension to the theme – one that includes space and the unknown.
Victorian and dark academia-esque, senior marketing major Vanessa Hickcox’s “Resurrection” was something out of Donna Tartt’s “The Secret History.” The baroque materials and patterns represented rebirth as they were all sourced second-hand. The reuse of these materials symbolized what is widely looked down upon and feared but can be seen as a new opportunity. Lace socks, brooches and nightgown-like dresses all completed this collection. What could be deemed as “Ethel Cain vinyl,” “Resurrection” had a vintage approach that is so nostalgic, yet so untouchable.
Sophomore finance and entrepreneurship double major Andrew Roberts’ collection “ilovepunx.com runway: 002,” had “cool” written all over it. Oversized everything and monochrome black with silver jewelry gave “The Matrix” vibes made sporty. The monochrome black outfits were interrupted by a white sneaker on every look, breaking up and complimenting the rock-solid attire. Puffers gave the silhouettes a blocky, oversized look that is uber-in right now. Monochrome anything, especially black, gives outfits an expensive and tasteful look. “ilovepunx.com runway: 002” hit the nail on the head.
In all gold and black, junior botany and fashion double major Laura Schonken’s “Paisley Isles” collection offered a glimpse into the Palace of Versailles. The models walking the catwalk would fit right into an art gallery, matching the golden frames and Renaissance art. At the same time, the collection had a 100% ’70s feel. Most of the pieces used the same material – a stunning gold, paisley brocade. Subtle fringe adorned corset tops, skirts and jeans. Simplistic and sleek, “Paisley Isles” had a rich and consistent contribution toward the entire theme.
By far one of the most eye-catching collections in the show was senior art and entrepreneurship double major Katie and senior art education major Molly Ensor’s “We’re All Going to Limbo.” Quilted materials and baby blues matching with stark bright reds looked like something out of “The Shining.” Bows, leg warmers and red star decals were indicators of the theme. Harnesses and leather chokers were staple accessories in the collection, adding a grunge feel to the whole thing. A blue dress with no arm-holes and a thick swallowed-tailed collar grabbed the audience's attention, as such a unique piece wasn’t expected of this theme.
Such a Kubrick-esque collection felt very far out there, yet it tied to “Ethereal” perfectly. It felt vintage yet modern and hardcore yet playful. There was nothing like it, and it was refreshing to see such a funky take to the theme.
A total 180 from the prior collection, sophomore fashion and marketing double major Liz Bregman’s "Changing Shape" offered a plethora of unique silhouettes and lighter, airy designs. Silk, pinstripe fabric beneath a simple pair of jeans and crescent-moon necklines called to Chanel-like inspirations and the loose-fitting layered look shows what "Changing Shape" really means. It drew the audience in like the tide. Classic old Hollywood hairstyles paid homage to Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly. The pieces brought the audience to a Wes Anderson-like universe mixed with all the styles of Rodeo Drive – a certain vibe that only "Ethereal" could master.
The final collection was Vulcan’s second of the night, “Transcend.” “Transcend” was the perfect closer to the show, and the audience was stunned as ’80s Barbie models paraded around in “Barbarella” bodysuits and chaps.
“Transcend” could have easily passed as a Thierry Mugler collection, or possibly even Vivienne Westwood. The cream and turquoise color scheme was glamorous and combined the coastal cowboy aesthetic with a retro aesthetic. Knee-high white boots completed the look with a V-neck bodysuit and turquoise/black mesh cape, and the entire outfit screamed, “Take a ride to heaven.”
The MUF&D fashion show flowed together perfectly, no matter how contrasting each collection was. The theme meant something different for everyone and our student designers here at Miami proved that no matter the interpretation, “Ethereal” is something that can be experienced by all.
Read the Style coverage of Coarse Culture, who advertised at the fashion show.