Runway 2018: Student-led fashion show diverges from the ordinary

Tuesday, May 08, 2018
Miranda Orellana works on black taffeta jacket

Above: Miranda Orellana works on a black taffeta jacket for her sight-impaired model. Below: Chrysalyn Morehead-Tucker (All photos by Gail Mallimson)

Designs focus on inclusivity and sustainability

By Lisa Owens Viani

Chrysalyn Morehead-TuckerMiranda Orellana, a junior at San Francisco State University, snipped off a loose thread with her teeth and looked critically at the black, polyester taffeta jacket she was working on. Nearby, junior Enrique Escobar manned an industrial-strength sewing machine, creating an all-weather jacket for a veteran, while senior Kinsey Thomas reworked panels of 1970s-era curtains into a “mod” top and pants set. “My concept is ‘Gone with the Window,’” Thomas explained. “I want to transport people to a different era but also add a sustainable approach.”

These juniors and seniors in the Apparel Design & Merchandising program were preparing for Runway 2018: Diverge, an annual student-run fashion show that will be held Thursday evening, May 10. According to Danette Scheib, a Family Interiors Nutrition & Apparel (FINA) lecturer, students were given two different design challenges: reusing materials and designing for underserved populations.

FINA Professor and Chair Connie Ulasewicz says sustainability is a theme in all of the courses in the department. For Runway 2018, juniors designed garments using materials deemed unsalable by the campus bookstore while both juniors and seniors designed garments for people who are often neglected by the fashion industry, such as differently abled people, veterans, transitioning and transgender people and women over the age of 65. One of Thomas’ designs is for those mature women and uses a pattern and fabric inspired by the 1960s. This year, the students also worked with 10 differently abled models, many of whom are University employees, designing clothing based on their specific needs and desires.

Orellana’s jacket and sweater are designed for a sight-impaired model. At his request, she used materials with an unconventional feel to cater to his heightened sense of touch and metal studs to spell out “SFSU” in Braille on the back of the jacket.

The students sometimes explore cultural themes, as well. Senior Chrysalyn Morehead-Tucker is working with dark red, faux “crocodile” fabric to make a pair of pants and matching top for “black bodies in futuristic and sci-fi settings,” she said. “What I tried to convey in my collection is a visual perspective on a culture full of life, innovation and power that is still strong among the African diaspora, even if most people don’t see it. The theme is almost a sense of ‘What if we were in an alternative universe where the Europeans hadn’t invaded Western Africa and colonized the rest of the continent? What would that world look like?’”

A total of 160 students, including student models, are involved in producing Runway 2018, said Ulasewicz. Students from a Visual Merchandising and Promotion course came up with the concept for and will stage the production. Senior and Apparel Merchandising major Danielle Sarkissian says Diverge represents a departure from established standards. “A true designer is one who must diverge from the expected to create something extraordinary, to create new works of art or to reconstruct something that already exists,” said Sarkissian.

Many of the students working on Runway 2018 plan to go on to careers designing costumes for film or theatre; some are interested in attending graduate school to study textile science. For others, like Enrique Escobar, fashion is in their blood. Escobar has worked with his family’s tailoring business since he was 12 and will continue that work after graduation. He’ll also be designing costumes for a film he plans to produce.

Ulasewicz says Runway 2018 highlights the work of the students in the community and beyond. In return, she says, the event “gives students an event that can live on through their portfolios and social media as they move on to the next phase of their careers.”

For more information about Runway 2018: Diverge, including tickets, visit

Republished from SF State News