By RACHEL HENRY
She struts out from behind the curtain, her steps falling in time to the beat of the music. She reaches the end of the runway and pauses, arms outstretched wide. Her dress of green rubber gloves envelopes her, synthetic hands holding her and reaching out toward the enraptured audience.
On April 4 and 5, Conestoga’s second-year visual merchandising students hit the catwalk with the second annual aWEARness Runway Performance 2012 at the Hub Theatre and Tannery Events Centre in Kitchener.
Hosted by second-year students and assisted by first-year students, proceeds from the event were donated to the local food bank.
Spearheaded by Danny Ingrouville and supported by Laura Harding and Margaret Hedges, all professors in the program, the fashion show featured wearable haute-couture designed by each student fitting a theme — this year’s being an element of design and an emotion.
“We started talking about it last year,” student Erin Dunford said. “We wanted it to be chic and elegant, using elements of design and emotions.”
Introduced by emcee Lynn Spence of TV’s Cityline, each designer had the opportunity to showcase their piece individually, either self-modeled or with a model of their choosing.
“Lynn does an exceptional job of explaining each piece to the audience,” said Hedges, who is also the visual merchandising and interior design program co-ordinator.
The presentation also included a video clip, directed by each designer in collaboration with two broadcast students, that was played before, after or during their unveiling.
“It’s all about showing the audience who our students really are,” Hedges said. “They’re extremely creative, so the whole purpose is that we take a very visual field and make it into something they’re really proud of.”
Though the event’s location was pre-established, students were required to plan the rest of the evening in its entirety.
“It transcends a lot of different courses,” Hedges said. “We talk about it in marketing, promotions and research and visual merchandising II. The whole purpose is (so students know) how to do catering, ads, swag bags and make money for the event.”
Despite being “super stressful,” as Dunford described it, the students agreed that they channeled their stress into their creations.
“I channelled my stress and it merged with my own emotions. I turned internally to find inspiration,” student Antonia Cameron said. “I really wanted to get outside my comfort zone and challenge myself.”
Classmate Patricia Graham found her inspiration for her theme was right in front of her. Using the childhood story of the Ugly Duckling, she used a combination of texture and shyness versus courage.
“I didn’t go out looking for it,” she said. “It’s just something you know.”
No matter how they started the creative process, the soon-to-be graduates were excited to show the audience the fruits of their labour.
“This feels like it’s our graduation. It’s our night, but on a heightened level,” Dunford said. “We’re not sharing it with anyone.”