Fashion Event is more than a runway show

Published: April 02, 2015
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It's easy to call the Apparel Merchandising and Design Association's annual Fashion Event at Auburn University a "fashion show."

It is, after all, an opportunity for apparel merchandising and apparel design students in the College of Human Sciences to showcase their work with a runway show.

However, in five short years, it has evolved to serve as an extensive training tool – exposing students to different roles in the fashion industry needed to produce top quality fashion events.

"Wanderlust," as it is called this year, will be held Thursday, April 16 at Auburn Arena. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. to view exhibits and to take part in a silent auction from 6:45-7:45 p.m. The runway show starts at 8 p.m. Cost for general seating is $15. Premium and VIP seating are also available. Tickets can be purchased in advance at www.humsci.auburn.edu/fashion or at the arena's scholarship entrance on the day of the event.

Chance Nowell, a senior in apparel merchandising, design and production management, has proudly had his work featured on the runway before, admitting that "seeing my garment come down the runway last year made me tear up a little." However, by taking a more prominent leadership role this year in producing the Fashion Event – he is AMDA president and co-coordinator of the event – Nowell is certain he is meant to pursue a career in fashion event planning.

"The AMDA Fashion Event is our chance to show underclassmen what they can do in our department, to show everyone what an apparel merchandising or apparel design major does, and to take pride in all our hard work," he said.

Fellow senior Kayla Sherman said she learned a tremendous amount last year when she was in charge of the styling committee. The group selected all of the shoes and accessories from Dillard's for each look, set the line-up and managed behind the scenes. Dillard's is this year's Gold Level Sponsor, with Robin Ruth as a Silver Level Sponsor and Southern Fashion House as a Bronze Level Sponsor.

This year, Sherman is a coordinator with Nowell. These experiences, coupled with the classes for Fashion Event Planning and Fashion Event Management, have given her confidence, and improved her leadership and communication skills – traits that are bound to benefit her in the future.

"Although I don't want a career as an event planner, I now have the knowledge and experience to plan and execute my own or an employer's fashion shows one day," said Sherman.

Eloise Stewart was an undergraduate in Auburn's apparel program when the first Fashion Event was produced by AMDA at an off-campus venue. It provided students an outlet to demonstrate their work, but didn't do much for promoting the program beyond its own students. Stewart, a two-time Auburn alumna, is now an instructor in the program and the AMDA faculty advisor.

She has seen it grow and flourish with the added influence of the entire Department of Consumer and Design Sciences, including faculty and interior design students. Under Armour Professor Pamela Ulrich and Associate Professor Karla Teel were particularly influential last year when they decided to use the spring Fashion Event Management class to help organize and plan the Fashion Event.

"Soiree," as last year's event was called, was held in the Auburn Arena for the first time and was well received, but Ulrich and Teel agreed future shows would benefit if students had additional time for planning and organization.

For this year's event, titled "Wanderlust," planning began in the fall semester class. Those students, along with AMDA officers, became committee leaders; students in the spring course became committee members. While the leadership is juniors and seniors, committees include a balance of sophomores and juniors in an effort to retain experienced students for future years. Ulrich said many of these committee members will be leaders next year.

As coordinators, Nowell and Sherman have worked closely with Stewart, Ulrich, Teel and committee leaders to ensure the production goes off perfectly. Approximately 160 people are involved this year, including planners, models, designers and volunteers.

"The Fashion Event requires much more intense planning and preparation than the audience would ever know," said Ulrich, adding that logistics have the runway show planned within 30 seconds.

"Last year showed us that it could be even bigger and better," added Nowell. "It exceeded all our expectations, so this year, we want to blow it out of the water."

"Wanderlust" will include a runway show, as well as presentations of e-portfolios, visual merchandising and interior design projects. The show will include works for an upcoming international competition, clothing lines from the senior capstone class and assorted class projects. The silent auction will feature special apparel and accessory items.

Proceeds from ticket sales and the silent auction will go to support AMDA Peer Giving Scholarships and apparel program initiatives.

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