May 25, 2024


To some, being put on the best dressed list is the highest achievement. But for second-year visual merchandising arts students, it was having the best dress themed to a musical genre.

On March 27 at the Waterloo Region Museum, the annual aWEARness runway performance show was held by the  students. They designed and created costumes focusing on the theme of music, with runway performances accompanied by videos created by broadcast – television students. Tickets sold for $20, with all proceeds going to the local Juvenile Diabetes Association.

When describing the aWEARness collection of dresses, only one word comes to mind, music. It was the ongoing theme of the show and undoubtedly one of the most eagerly anticipated moments by the students.
Each dress had a specific music genre as the inspiration. The nine genres showcased were classical, blues, jazz, punk, hip-hop, country, reggae, disco and house.

The show began promptly at 8:30, with the lights flickering  twice as if a play was about to begin. The once bright room dimmed to a romantic darkness and the stage shined with incandescent light, as a soft musical note started whispering throughout the crowd. All heads turned to the front as the first dress appeared.

Ferah Shrem, a second-year visual merchandising arts student, walked out covered head to toe in musical notes. The dress consisted of a Tiffany blue contour, a simple black bodice top that stopped right at the knee, and a luxe peplum skirt that flowed right onto the floor with curled paper frills.

The show continued down this path as elegant and original dresses were displayed. One dress in particular stole the show, as the crowd went into a collective “Ahh” when it appeared. The dress was made by Nicole Mitchell, a second-year visual merchandising arts student. Her genre of music was house.

The dress resembled the beauty of an unbloomed rose, just waiting to show its flawlessness to the universe. Five petal-shaped wings extended from the waistline of the dress. The petals were made out of tulle and were lined with soft pink sequins. The dress itself was of an incredibly fine quality — black sequins, split leg, maxi dress. The bodice was a shimmering grey material with rolled metal sheeting and bottle cap accents, making your eyes focus on nothing but the simplicity of the design. Other materials used on the dress were chicken wire and ceiling tiles.

“I designed the dress just out of the craziness of it and for the wow factor,” Mitchell said.

Another crowd favourite was a dress made by Lauren Peltier, a second-year visual merchandising arts student. Her genre was jazz.

Her dress was made from a golden foam material. The amazing thing about the dress was that it looked identical to an upside down alto saxophone. The saxophone extended right off her right arm and perfectly to the ground. The detail of the dress was what made it a favourite and the most memorable. Her matching golden nail polish and the way she danced and fist pumped while modelling it, was just a bonus. The upside down, alto saxophone had all the key components that a real saxophone would have, from the neck cork all the way down to the bow.

“I chose to do jazz. The saxophone is the main instrument in jazz so I wanted to incorporate that into my dress. I also love the visuals of it,” Peltier said.

Every visual arts student did an amazing job incorporating something special into their dresses dedicated to their genre. The disco dress showcased vinyl records and an actual disco ball mask, perfectly portraying something Kanye West would have worn during his last tour, Yeezus.

A hip-hop dress incorporated old-school Converse sneakers that were turned into high heels, and featured gold chains on the body of the dress.

A reggae dress embodied Jamaica, representing the country’s flag in a red, yellow and green skirt. It also had two marijuana leaves attached to the shoulder straps of the dress.

At the end of the show all the models did one last loop around the stage followed by their designers, as a standing ovation was rightfully given to each and every student who helped to make the aWEARness event a success.

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