The only thing that fashion buffs seem to agree on is that fashion is ever-changing. And on Dec. 4, FAST’s (Fashion and Student Trends) biannual runway — held in the Pauley Ballroom this year — highlighted “Altered” fashions as interpreted by the 28 participating student designers. Altered, as a concept, zeroes in on transitions, on things in the process of changing but not fully there yet — or else the show would be called “Transformed.”
What makes all of FAST’s shows a must-see every semester is the complete creative control they offer to their designers — not only do they get sartorial freedom but also the ability to choose their own music and models. And of course, as a student organization, there’s no pressure to sell anything besides your ideas. All of this makes FAST a hotbed of fresh and unique takes on contemporary fashion.
One of the big themes this semester was, unsurprisingly, politics. A standout of the night was Nicholas Murphy’s exploration of the hoodie, which wrapped up the show. Beginning with a purple straightjacket-like hoodie with Basquiat-esque graffiti on the back, the hoodies slowly morphed into increasingly creative and liberated forms, capping off with a gray hoodie that was abloom with seemingly 2Pac’s rose that grew from concrete. Murphy seemed to make a pretty explicit reference to police violence with brightly colored paint splatters that appeared on the front of some the hoodies but ultimately offered a sign of hope, a comfort in these times of political flux.
Another theme this semester was nostalgia, which seemed to reach new heights in this year’s pop culture. Vhya Do’s 90’s throwback line mixed endearing retro prints with decidedly contemporary looks to stunning effect. Melany Amarikwa, too, seemed to channel the 90’s, but unlike Do’s colorful prints, she kept her looks in beige and brown tones. Using this simple color palate, she created bold designs such as a beautiful checkerboard-patterned skirt or fierce looks such as a tight knee-length dress that laced up on the exposed sides. Some went farther: Zackary Harris, the club’s co-president, took to heart what E.A. Robinson (sarcastically) called the “medieval grace of iron clothing”, gracing solid black outfits with chainmail-like flourishes. Bardia Eivazi went beyond that, bringing back the monarchy by creating a contemporary cosmopolitan royal family on the runway. His princesses combined red-carpet-ready looks with crinoline, while his princes wore modern interpretations of culottes and changshan. Here, not only fashion but time itself was altered.
Some, however, took a much more poetic tact with their alterations. Jacklin Ha, for example, sought to inspire the audience to love themselves with her segment — set to the music “Scars to Your Beautiful” — which showcased outfits dramatically progressing in color from black to white to confident scarlet. Sarah Kersting, in contrast, drew on the image of a dying fire to create a series of aggressive black and red looks (A neighbor in the audience: “How did she make a red pompom choker look threatening?”). Hannah de Vries, in maybe the most fascinating series of the night, altered famous paintings such as “The Kiss” and “Starry Night” into lovable dresses, which worked surprisingly well.
Finally, a few designers focused on altering materials to meet the standards of haute couture. Danlin Huang’s use of denim for dresses and gowns was an interesting experiment, just like Lizzie Chung’s thrift store-inspired line and Jingting Li’s heavy use of lace. The boldest example of this was Katie Revilla’s “Armistice,” which used metal to create, paradoxically, nebulous and delicate forms that seemed to wear the models, instead of the other way around.
With such a various array of lines, FAST’s 2016 show was supremely engaging and worth every penny of the ticket price to attend. After all, it would be a shame to ignore the wonderful creativity of UC Berkeley’s resident fashion-lovers. Even better, next year’s theme has been revealed to be “Liberation”, which only promises more spectacular outfits to grace the FAST runway.
Contact Adesh Thapliyal [email protected].