Mount Mary’s annual fashion show, CREO, is in its 48th year and its fashion program is celebrating its 50th anniversary. It’s only fitting then that Sister Aloyse Hessburg, who helped found the school’s fashion degree program, sat front and center as the models paraded up and down the concrete runway.
A highlight of the city’s fashion calendar, this year’s show, titled “Ignite,” packed the Harley-Davidson Museum’s event space to the gills and was as high energy as show-goers have come to expect since the first show in 1967. Student designers showcased excellent knitwear, thoughtful designs and a few fantastic wedding dresses.
Faye Wetzel, owner of Faye’s boutique, emceed the show and opened it by declaring that “talent, passion and big ideas are in the spotlight.” She wasn’t exaggerating.
The show opened with a section called “Ebony,” in which seven seniors were tasked with creating designs inspired by the school’s historic costume archive. Designs from the archive were featured in the Milwaukee Art Museum’s exhibit “Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair.” A standout look was Janelle Judy’s Anna Sui-inspired light blue A-line dress that was emblazoned with glittering crystals in a rectangular shape across the chest.
Tori Sterr then presented her collection of separates inspired by men’s shirting, with a knee-length vertical striped shirtdress that was particularly eye-catching. Pa Kou Vang’s “Hyperbolic Analog” collection was a nicely tailored separates set with patterns inspired by the shape of a gyroscope. And there were two collections by Pa Chang Her for children, one nautical themed and the other black and gold, that were expertly fit to her four models’ wiggling shapes.
Multiple students showed off their skills with machine-knit pieces, including Ashley Lehnen’s “Beach Lace” and Sara Sybesma’s “Glacial Haze.” Sybesma’s light blue shift dress with a large knit panel at the bottom looked extremely versatile and would flatter just about anyone. The designer who won Bon-Ton’s “best of show” award was Emily Ristow, whose black corset and pant separates were topped with removable red and black tulle skirting. The outfits were finely tailored and were received with loud applause from the crowd when Wetzel described Ristow’s inspiration: The two outfits, titled “Trade-Off,” were inspired by the complex discussions about freedom of religion and freedom of speech – and the restrictions on both of those – that arose in the aftermath of the shootings at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris. The outfits were a reminder of fashion’s ability to join a larger cultural discussion in the most utilitarian of ways.
There will be two more shows tonight at 5:30 p.m. and at 8 p.m.