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Fashion Week showcases student accomplishments

Fashion at Brown seeks to make community aware of clothing choices, offer outlet for creativity

“I don’t think people think ‘fashion’ when they think of Brown,” said Sofia Kadieva ’16, one of the designers taking part in Fashion at Brown’s fourth annual Fashion Week. The series kicked off with a giveaway and celebration on the Main Green Monday afternoon and comprises a variety of fashion-related events throughout the week, including a lecture, exclusive sales and a fashion show.

After Monday’s kickoff, there will be a fashion industry panel Wednesday, the main fashion show event Thursday evening, an exclusive sale at Madewell at Providence Place Mall Friday — along with an after-party that night — and an urban vintage bazaar on Waterman Street Saturday.

“The urban vintage bazaar is like a giant flea market,” said Madeline Ritaccio ’14, director of Fashion at Brown. “I always find something that I worship and buy and wear every day afterwards.”

“I found a ball gown for $5 there last year,” Kadieva said.

Aileen Frotten ’16, Fashion at Brown marketing coordinator, said she was most excited for the Monday kickoff event. “My team and I worked really hard to find the local businesses that ended up sponsoring us,” she said, adding that she also looks forward to the fashion show at the end of the week because the marketing team is collaborating with five local sponsors to provide accessories for the show.

“Everybody dresses themselves in a certain way that reflects who they are,” said Misbah Noorani ’17, a member of the hair and makeup team. “Fashion at Brown makes people on campus more cognizant that it’s a choice that you can make every day when you’re getting dressed in the morning.”

Ritaccio said her goal is for Fashion Week to “give a voice and an outlet to the creative side of a lot of Brown students who might not necessarily have this outlet in their everyday lives.”

“As a rule, we don’t really turn anyone down,” she said. “We welcome anyone who wants to participate.”

Kadieva designed for the final fashion show last year and has past experience with fashion design. She described her collection this year as “seven dresses ­— ball gowns — in silken textures, in bright intense jewel tones.”

“It’s all about being gorgeous and fierce at the same time,” Kadieva said.

Marcy Huang ’16, another designer, said she loves feminine shapes, but that she also likes to add “a bit of an edge” to her designs.

“A lot of (my collection) is kind of flowy, but with a rustiness to it,” Huang said.

Ritaccio has been involved with Fashion Week for three years now, she said, adding that she first joined the event as a staff member on the hair and makeup team.

Ritaccio works with a team of 38 coordinators and staff members, all of whom are assigned different areas of expertise, from photography to finance to social media, she said. The designers that will be showcasing their work in this week’s fashion show come from a variety of backgrounds — Fashion at Brown sends out calls for designers in Morning Mail, assists new designers getting in touch with fabric stores and even helps them learn how to sew, she added.

Frotten is in charge of reaching out to the Providence community, finding sponsors for the events and acting as liaison between the coordinating team and these local businesses.

“While I’m interested in fashion, I’m also very interested in the business aspect of it,” she said. “As Brown students, we can sometimes get stuck in our Brown bubble and lose sight of all this art that’s going on around us in the community.”

Ritaccio also emphasized the group’s collaborators, including Bib and Tuck, New Harvest Coffee Roasters and Spirits and Flatbread Company. “I think we have a lot of recognition now, both on and off of campus,” she said.

Organization efforts for Fashion Week began last summer, Ritaccio said. But in the weeks leading up to the show, designers have worked to finalize their designs and to fit their models.

“Last year, I ended up having to make 900 paper roses,” Kadieva said, adding that on the day of the show, she had to use staples to hold together one of her designs at the last minute.

Before the show, designers also have to conduct fittings with their models.

“Most designers get their friends to model,” Kadieva said.

Huang uses her best friends, saying, “It’s easier with people I know who will be really comfortable around me.”

But instead, Kadieva said she “was looking for someone who could have an expressive face.”

“I think I have a diverse collection of girls for this year,” Kadieva said. “The clothes I make are for all women of all types, ethnicities, races and body types who can be confident or who can wear (my designs) and feel confident, majestic and gorgeous — because they are,” she added.

“I am half-Chinese myself, and I think that diversity isn’t something that happens too much in the fashion industry,” Huang said.

“We want Fashion at Brown to showcase and celebrate Brown students,” Ritaccio said. “And we try to make sure we’re doing that to the maximum extent.”


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