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MassArt's student fashion show is not to be missed

Tricia Elam Walker
Designs by Janea Williams (below) are part of MassArt’s student fashion show. photo: Courtesy MassArt

Now that New York City’s Met Gala is out of the way, get ready for fashion slayage Boston style at Massachusetts College of Art and Design’s 111th student fashion show. In two shows on Saturday, May 19, “Eclipse: The 2018 MassArt Fashion Show” will feature original designs by seniors as well as select sophomores and juniors.

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“Eclipse:” The 2018 massart fashion show:

Michael Tornato’s menswear collection is inspired by men of color. photo: Courtesy MassArt

Michael Tornato’s menswear collection is inspired by men of color. photo: Courtesy MassArt

A renowned art and design school since 1907, MassArt offers fashion and textile design instruction and training and assists students in locating relevant internships. Students work on their collections from the time they enter MassArt as freshmen until they graduate. They are allowed to revise and edit each year, but the overarching theme is selected early on in the process. This year, 26 seniors previewed their collections for area fashion experts, who offered advice and helpful critique prior to the runway show.

Along with the current trend of urban wear infused with couture elements, a whirl of metaphorical themes emerge in this year’s show, including ethereal concepts like “war of the roses, ” “movement and open spaces” and “what sound looks like” as well as strong emotional themes, from different seasons of a relationship to balancing life and death. Just a few of the noteworthy examples: Kayla-Marie Bienwald’s “Syndicate,” featuring cathedral ceiling-inspired textiles, stained glass beading and medieval detail; Annalisa Petrucci’s “Chromesthesia,” with guitar strings, cassette tape ribbons and broken CDs along with fake furs and bright color; Jackie San Jose’s “Innamorare,” in which androgynous design ideas mix with frills, sheers and denim; and Kristar Ry’s “Love and Lost,” featuring denim detailing and highly polished craftsmanship.

An array of themes rooted in the political underpinnings of the day explore female empowerment, technology takeovers, environmental concerns, gender fluidity, embrace of body-size confidence, family, diverse roots and ethnicity. Some designs celebrate specific cultures, including Cambodian art and dance, Puerto Rican vibrancy and Spanish flamenco dancing. Pakdey Mao’s “Cambodian Anthropology” features shimmery fabrics inspired by Cambodian royal ballet costumes; in Jhennipher Cambraia’s “Soul Creates Magic,” menswear shifts to womenswear in denim, patchwork and unique designs; Desiree Zayas-Santiago’s “Bioluminescent” includes red carpet evening wear showing Puerto Rican influences; Ana Romero’s “Duende” features Flamenco-inspired vibrant colors in sustainable fabrics.

Several collections stand out by virtue of the intense gaze they cast on the pressing need many members of society have for protection, survival tools, sustenance, mental armor and the strength to combat threatening forces.

Michael Toronato’s eponymous menswear collection, for instance, is concerned with the vulnerability of people of color out in the streets, and thus emphasizes military-grade buckles, bullet-proof fabrics, karate-inspired belts and even a sleeping-bag-coat with built-in backpack.

Similarly, Kina Troy’s “Shift” collection features clothing designed to endure bicycling through the city. It is functional and focused, incorporating street signage and night-time visibility into its features.

Brittanie Beatie created her “Shell Shock” looks through a post-traumatic stress disorder lens, after overcoming a traumatic life event. During an internship, she learned leather manipulation and, with her loom, hand-wove many of her fabrics. This collection offers neutral-toned mixable pieces as well as warrior breast plates and a modern take on leather chaps.

Expressing a more global concern, Eva Maskalenko combines fashion and science to challenge the issue of pollution with her wearable tech collection, “Disappearance.” She has created white dresses splashed with narrow strips of color. The clothes change color depending on the level of pollution in the air. Racially ironic, the more pollution, the whiter the dress. The garments’ designs, inspired by plants and mushrooms, dip and swirl like leaves and petals.

MassArt fashion students never disappoint. The depth of research, expanse of imagination, intricacy of design, choice of palettes and silhouettes and a high level of technique and craftsmanship are always impressive. Let’s hope you have your tickets already, as this year’s show is likely to sell out, just like its predecessors.