For decades, and especially since we opened the Charles Hosmer Morse Center for the Arts in 2001, we have celebrated Fashion Design as visual art alongside drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, ceramics, and digital design. The works of fashion designed over those years—whether children's outfits, accessories, adult fashion, or bridal ensembles—have been living expressions of the imagination, spirit, and energy of young people. This year the designers took their inspirations from the animal kingdom, and their annual fashion show, Modern Menagerie, put their creations on display as 18 teens and seven children performed beautifully as fashion models in Fuller Hall.
One aspect of fashion that makes it unlike other visual arts is that it needs another person to make it come alive. As evidenced during the fashion show, the artwork only comes alive and expresses the spirit of the designer when worn and displayed by a model. The grace and style of the model's movements expands the visual art into the realm of performance art, and those of us who watched the precocious children and graceful young adults witnessed the power of that art form as models glided and strutted, spun and twirled across the stage. They even blew kisses and threw bouquets, engaging the audience in multiple ways while highlighting the beauty and imagination behind the fashion designs they wore.
As the title of the show suggested, the designs were diverse, ranging from butterflies to bucks to brides, but the diversity of the creations were only part of the beauty. The 25 models were also diverse. They ranged from pre-K to Grade 12, and they came from three continents and five countries: China, Germany, Japan, Kazakhstan, and the US. The artists were also diverse coming from four countries: China, Japan, Thailand, and the US. Each artist chose the model to wear each design, and in one case, the designer and both of her models were each from different countries. One of the things I love about our school is the ease with which young people learn to navigate a diverse community and create bonds across boundaries such as nationality, language, or culture. The show required that these models cooperated with the designer both in the fitting and in the display, and the end result proved once again that the world is more beautiful when we can work together in our diversity.
This cooperation was also evident in other ways, some of them behind the scenes, that highlighted the spirit that is fostered in the Morse Center and throughout campus. While sometimes the arts are seen as individualistic works, the fashion show is a collaborative effort. This year's show kicked off with Carter Brochu '19 smoothly playing the role of emcee and introducing pianist/singer Sam Bulpin '19 and singer Maggie Roach '19 who performed a beautiful duet to the Beatles' "Let It Be". A large screen to the side of the stage displayed a video, created by Filmmaking teacher Alex Shea, showing the artists at work, and that was followed by a slide of the show's poster which was designed by Digital Design student Zach Fucci '19. As the models came on stage, they were accompanied by music provided by Santiago "Santi" Zamudio-Galindo '21, and the management of the theater tech and stage directions were handled by Jane Clerkin '19, Matt Bader '19, Lily Kraus '21, Emma Sestito '20, Sophie Guss '20, and Miranda Degreenia '21 from our A/V and Theater programs.
The final and perhaps most important collaboration happened literally behind the scenes as Dyan Wallace returned from retirement to help her former student, Fashion Design teacher Emma Charrow '14, in her first Fashion Show. This relationship of master artist and apprentice which prepared Emma to take over the program Dyan began two decades ago is at the heart of our art programs. Each teacher is a master artist in his or her own right, and they have chosen to take on the mentoring of younger artists so that they too can feel what it is like to produce inspiring and powerful works of art to share with the world. As evidenced on Fuller stage last week, Dyan and Emma and their colleagues in the art department have done an outstanding job in helping young people share their imaginations and creative spirits in beautiful ways. To all who helped create the marvelous multi-modal menagerie of art that we witnessed on Thursday, bravo and thank you!