We loved it so much last year that we just had to do it again. The second annual Fashion on the Shore (FOTS), a runway event showcasing the top student designers from the Lake Michigan area, took place April 26. This year it featured student designers from five area schools: Central Michigan University, Dominican University, Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago, International Academy of Design & Technology-Chicago, and Western Michigan University.
Presented by Shore magazine, along with the Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council, the event moved to a Friday evening at the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center in St. Joseph, Michigan. Guests could kick back and enjoy food and wine from the Boulevard Inn & Bistro and Kilwin’s Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream Shoppe; Harbor Town Interiors was a sponsor for the festive event. Enthusiasm for the show, coupled with an early sunshine-warmed day, swelled the audience to overflowing. Broadcast personality Robin Van Dyke expertly kept the entertainment lively, even if there was a momentary pause once in while for a collection to hit the runway.
In the end, 24 talented student designers presented an amazing array of clothes—from rompers to brocade short suits to wedding dresses. The audience learned about draping, ombre-dying and corset construction. And the 30 local models rocked the runway, looking absolutely fabulous thanks to Reva Salon & Spa.
At stake were cash prizes of $,1500, $1,000 and $550 for the top three designers, but also bragging rights for every student presenting a vision in the show.
First Prize Winner: Sarah Lyons
What moves Sarah Lyons, 20, are details: delicate gold braiding or lustrous ombre pearl beading. She showed all of this, and more, in her collection at FOTS. Inspired by the regal combination of navy and gold accented with gold, Lyons put three gowns on the runway, plus a sea foam green dress and a corset-and-pants outfit. Each piece demonstrated how stunning understated glamor could be.
“I am very interested in patternmaking and detail work,” says Lyons, who is currently studying at Western Michigan University. “The questions of how and why things work grab my attention.” Her recent work showed off her flair for mermaid hems, pin-tuck pleating and graceful flow.
She grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she learned to sew by the time she was eight. In the future, she would like to pursue a career in bridal designs, putting her love of luxurious detail to good use.
Second Prize Winner: Jason Gagnon
Growing up on a horse farm in Riverdale, Michigan, Jason Gagnon, 30, drew comic books all the time. “I spent an inordinate amount of time detailing the clothes of the characters,” he says. Still, he started off trying a career in interior design and then segued to hair school. “I’m creative, but those weren’t the right fits for me,” he says. Eventually he settled on fashion design at Central Michigan University, although he had never touched a sewing machine. “But I really did like drawing those clothes in the comic books.”
At FOTS, Gagnon presented a collection based on his interpretations of the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha.” There was a double lace overlay kimono coat, a textural gold jumpsuit with leather trim and lots of flowing bell sleeves. He ended his presentation with a wedding dress, its high-low hem revealing a sumptuous red lining. For all of his designs, Gagnon used elaborate draping techniques and subtraction cutting, an experimental approach to pattern cutting that allows for random discoveries while cutting quickly. In the future, he would like to work on his own ready-to-wear women’s line.
Third Prize Winner: Lauren Korolowicz
Lauren Korolowicz, 23, was a tomboy when she was growing up in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. But even so, she made her own soccer jerseys. “My mother is a wonderful artist and she was a big influence on me,” says Korolowicz.
The collection she showed at FOTS was inspired by New York City, where Korolowicz, after graduating from Western Michigan University, recently got a job at Gill Apparel Group, working in the Vince Camuto and Jessica Simpson divisions. “Everyone comes to New York to follow her dreams, but it can be a rocky road. So my inspiration was about a young girl dropping everything and moving to the city to chase that dream.”
Her looks included a black twist silk dress and a dress made out of silk charmeuse that was printed with an original design by Korolowicz. The sweater that went with the dress was two-layered, with one layer was composed of tinsel/eyelash fabric that was hand-pulled through the sweater knit holes to achieve a textured look.
Currently, Korolowicz plans to stay in New York, pursuing her dream of working for a high end women’s contemporary sportswear brand.
In the end, the ultimate winners were the members of the audience, who got to be inspired by the visions and skills of the all the designers. It was a night when everyone felt great about being a fashionista.