Life in the Lou: Fashion Frenzy

In search of creativity, fun, and fabulous fashion this weekend, a desire catalyzed by all of those Milan Fashion Week TikToks flooding my for-you page, I attended the Fashion Frenzy show on Sunday. It did not disappoint. As I situated myself in the glass room of Weil, the green plant wall created a dramatic and vivid background and Madonna’s “Vogue” constructed the beat for models to walk to. The first to walk was Caroline Chang’s piece, her gray, brown and white dress draped on her model beautifully–a stunning delicate silhouette. Second, Brooke Cowan’s feminine and soft, colorful orange and flower-printed garment. Cowan’s model wore layers of strappy pearls to give an ode to the 1920s era. Next, Lily Smith’s two-piece puffed-sleeve shirt and pleated skirt combo. And finally the last piece, which ended up earning the prize, created by Armour’s Director of Marketing, Ruby Berryman.

Fashion Frenzy is a design competition and runway show aimed at showcasing the work of up-and-coming designers at WashU and in the St. Louis area. The event was founded to involve creatives and the general public in the St. Louis fashion scene, which is often overlooked at WashU. 

Nisha Mani, co-founder of Fashion Frenzy and Director of Copy and Writing at Armour, as well as Olivia Baba stated, “We wanted to create this competition as a space outside of the classroom to be creative! So many students on campus aren’t aware of the wonderful fashion program at WashU, so we wanted to spread the word and show off the amazing work that these students are capable of!” 

This year, the competition’s theme was inspired by Mend, a clothing repair and redesign service on WashU’s campus, and their mission statement: with rampant consumption of fast fashion, there has been movement in the fashion industry towards repairing items and finding creative solutions to refreshing your wardrobe. Mani and Baba wanted to challenge this year’s designers to upcycle items donated by Found by the Pound into artistic creations. For this show specifically, Fashion Frenzy was excited about having Kendall Mcgowan, a visual merchandiser at Saks Fifth Avenue, come and judge. 

The winner (and also co-Director of Marketing at Armour), Ruby Berryman, fabricated her garment using three pairs of recycled jeans and some excess industrial fabric for a pop of color. She spoke with us in an interview afterwards about her process, “I wanted to focus on the existing seam lines in the jeans while highlighting my own tailoring. With this piece, my aim was to create a dress that is versatile and inspires viewers to take a closer look as details pop out at them. Thank you to my model Aries for making it even more beautiful.” 

Our very own Anna Wintour, aka Leena Bekhiet, was a lucky judge. She took us through some of her thoughts on the final verdict: 

“In Fashion Frenzy, the designers approached the prompt of upcycling scrap fabrics and created glamorous looks in a tiny time frame of 48 hours. All four pieces were wonderfully creative. The designs were entirely different in silhouette, fabric, and manipulation, making it hard to choose a clear winner, as each piece responded to the prompt uniquely and spectacularly. With the rest of the judges, we discussed the beauty of each piece, detecting details similar to beautiful garments from Helmut Lang and Jacquemus. For example, demonstrating the designer’s keen eye for delicate and interesting aspects of design that we love to see on the market. Other designs had gorgeous construction, interesting prints, or strong character. Each and every design left an excellent impression, but ultimately when we had to choose; the upcycled denim dress designed by Ruby Berryman was well-constructed, conceptually driven, and impressively created out of solely denim jeans. The pop of green was a stunning surprise and a sublime detail as well. Congrats, thank you, and well done to all of the designers at today’s Fashion Frenzy!” 

Words Bri Lee
Photography by Kate Kunitz and Jackie Yoon 
Featuring Nisha Mani, Olivia Baba, Lily Smith, Ruby Berryman, Brooke Cowan, Caroline Chang, Leena Bekhiet

Armour Magazine Season 30 — F/S 2023

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