A Piet Mondrian painting, the Avengers in evening wear, Coachella-esque girls in flower headbands — on Friday night, these designs adorned the propped-up runway in the Clark Kerr Campus Krutch Theater during the biannual Fashion And Student Trends fashion show, which was themed Continuum. With 24 designers sending models down the catwalk to a sold-out audience of 300, the night was one of FAST’s most successful events yet.
Sharp, sleek wires decorated the runway, while a fluid light show projected onto a background of jagged shapes, setting a tone for Continuum that implied futurism and bustling kinetic energy.
FAST president Ming Cong explained, “I interpreted it as a time and space continuum — at least, not the John Mayer album.” According to Cong, her interpretation did hold a presence at the show — “I loved when designers did a space-themed one. There was a white dress with a wire at the bottom (and) a couple looks with LED lights.”
However, Continuum’s concept and definition constantly evolved throughout the night, with each UC Berkeley student designer showcasing his or her unique vision.
“I think I interpreted it in a narrow and almost superficial sense,” Cong said, commenting on the transformation of the night’s thematic concept. Continuum led to two divergent trains of thought — some students interpreted it as envisioning the future, while others took their collection to revisit past eras — which both touched on Cong’s concept of linking time and space.
The night’s thematic timeline was incredibly expansive. Retro throwbacks ranged from Joanna Guo’s “Alice in Wonderland” interpretation, which evoked Victorian England, to Sarah Mount’s ‘20s meets ‘70s clash, in which flapper girl silhouettes were decorated by hippie-inspired fringes and florals. In an elegant highlight of the show, designer Wesley Yu displayed an entire collection inspired by the Baroque Era, which was set to a Bach-esque piano number. Decked with fabric displaying luscious gold embroidery, the collection suggested tones of Versace in its ornamentation.
On the other hand, other student designers sought to push boundaries with an eye towards the future. Beyond several space-themed collections noted by Cong, “edgy,” “monochromatic” and “minimalistic” were prevalent descriptive tags at the show. The futuristic designs incorporated more cutting-edge textures such as a holographic, color-warping skirt and dresses in lame, which had an aluminum sheen that evoked the electrifying urbanity of Lanvin.
Beyond the edgy minimalism and retro throwbacks prevalent at Continuum, other trends that Cong noted included the following: “lots of floor-length skirts. Lots of crop tops. Very sleek skirts and baggy skirts. People pushed more for evening wear.” Floral was also a common motif that took various forms — from fabric prints to ruffles that popped across dresses to floral headbands.
The night also displayed the transformation that FAST itself has gone through over the years. Cong remarked that “in terms of design, the show has really improved … Everything was a bit more avant garde this time. They were definitely more wearable last time.” A high point of the show’s avant-garde dimension included Cory Mohn’s tongue-in-cheek Photoslut collection, in which every piece incorporated Mohn’s own selfie as a print.
While each FAST designer of the night approached fashion as a hobbyist, many of them demonstrated a surprisingly deft skill that promised potential for careers in the industry.
“I don’t think it’s really a question of skill for them,” Cong said. “Wesley Yu actually has an investor. Several of the designers are reaching that point in their lives where they have to decide.” Cong herself will be heading to New York this summer to intern in retail. If Friday night’s show was any sign of the creative talent to be found on campus, Berkeley just might be making a name for itself in New York sometime soon.
Jason Chen covers fashion. Contact him at [email protected].
A previous version of this article may have implied that Wesley Yu’s designs featured actual embroidery. In fact, they featured a printed pattern.