Students in trench coats, sunglasses and colorful skirts filled the chairs that lined the long catwalk. Their heads turned in unison, following the models down the runway. One model showed off a tight sheer dress with flower motifs flowing from her knees to the hem. Another donned a coat with a garment bag sewn onto its shoulders.
More than 100 looks from 23 student designers made their way through the room during Fashion@Brown’s annual fashion show Friday evening. The year’s show, “Fashion Beyond the Screen,” was F@B’s biggest yet and was the first to take place off campus.
Students flocked to 1 Davol Square for the sold-out event. Many waited in the standby line hoping that one of the 350 seats along the runway might become available.
“For us to really pull this off takes an entire village,” F@B co-President Natalia Brown ’23 told The Herald.
Natalia Brown emphasized that all 11 subsidiary F@B teams participated in the event, including models, hair and makeup, graphic design and diversity, equity and inclusion. The teams also carefully curated the music that would complement each look, with a DJ standing beside the catwalk.
But the spotlight — both literally and figuratively — shone brightest on the work of the designers. From the moment the first model sauntered onto the runway in a black bodysuit with a set of stuffed arms hanging from her shoulders to the final lap where the designers walked alongside the models wearing their collections, it was clear that the show was celebrating months of hard work.
The looks were arranged by theme: nature, girlhood and future. Some, like those of F@B designers Charles Usadi ’25 and Cara Ianuale ’26, fit seamlessly into one category. Others were more abstract. All of them were meticulously curated and executed.
“It’s really incredible. I’m kind of living out my Project Runway dreams,” Ianuale said.
Before joining F@B this year, Ianuale had only ever upcycled garments and made elastic-waist skirts. Now, her collection titled “Dear Cara” includes four pieces that trace her changing relationship with femininity. A pink dress represented youth and innocence, and a top with ribbon wrapped all around it represented repression. The third ensemble, a skirt with the words of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie written all over it, celebrated the rediscovery of feminine joy and exploration. Her last piece, a pink quilted dress with ribbons cascading down the piece, pays homage to feminist quilters.
“What an exciting thing and honor to be able to wear somebody’s art and to show that to the Brown and greater Providence community,” said Aliza Kopans ’25, who walked in Ianuale’s pink quilted dress.
Like Ianuale, many of the designers learned to make clothes this year. The F@B design directors led a series of workshops throughout the fall and spring to teach the team technical skills. They even planned a trip to FABSCRAP, a textile reuse site in New York, so student designers, regardless of their experience, could gather the materials they needed.
“I knew the basics of a sewing machine but really didn’t know anything beyond that,” Usadi told the Herald. After attending F@B workshops and learning from the design leaders, he created three looks for the show.
Usadi channeled nature in his line and even sewed dried vine seed pods onto one of his dresses. As the model wearing this look progressed through the catwalk, the pods rustled against each other to add another sonic dimension overtop the DJ’s music.
The designers got to decide how many looks they wanted to create for the show, ranging from one to nine. Buzzy Martin, a first-year student at the Rhode Island School of Design told The Herald, “I was just being a little extra,” referring to the nine denim-based looks he exhibited.
Martin added that each designer received $70 from F@B to build their collection, no matter how many pieces they ultimately decide to make. In Martin’s case, staying within his budget was easy since the concept behind his collection was to not use any new fabric. He utilized different scraps of jeans and scarves to create a unique assortment of looks.
According to many F@B members, teamwork was an important element of accomplishing the show. “It feels like a group effort even though it’s my line,” Usadi said.
At the end of the show, the design team gave a special shoutout to Design Director Seabass Immonen ’23 for his mentorship across four years at F@B. He, in turn, reminisced about the club’s growth — this year’s event featured nearly twice as many designers as his first show.
A sense of exhaustion, exhilaration and accomplishment exuded from all the F@B members as soon as the last model stepped off the runway. “I just was so impressed by the fashion and the professionalism of the models and the designers,” F@B co-President Kaila Zimnavoda ’24 said. “I think it’s amazing that these are students.”