by Lenora Kasper
April 28, 2020
The fashion show at Genesee Community College has been the biggest fashion show in Western New York for 38 years. This year, COVID-19 put the 39th show into jeopardy. Almost. “We were waiting for the fashion show to get cancelled once the school closed,” said Johnathan Jablonski, one of the GCC students working on the show.
The entire show is fully student produced and prior to the outbreak, they’ve all put countless hours of hard work into the show. “I have put a lot of work into making my garments already,” said GCC Fashion Student Olivia Kohorst. “I’m a designer, and I’m making my whole line myself. So definitely, I was scared I wasn’t going to be able to showcase my work.”
GCC Instructor of Fashion Business, Laura Taylor said, “The students do put a lot of time and financial investment into the show. I wasn’t going to give up easily. They’ve worked hard.”
The show must go on: virtually. The Fashion professors and students are currently working with the Marketing and Communications department to set up a website that will showcase a Lookbook. Students will get the chance to show off their pieces on their own page. A massive email list will go out to every student, professor, alumni, and even fashion leaders in the Rochester and Buffalo area.
The show will go live on May 2nd at 6pm and have eleven scenes the students worked hard to create. The theme “Ebullition,” created by student Yuuko Sano, is defined as “a sudden outburst of emotion,” and each scene will reflect that along with authentic emotions consistent with the Japanese representation “ki do ai raku,” meaning happiness, anger, sadness, and joy. It is a theme that is fitting with the roller coaster of emotions these students have faced so far this semester.
“We’re still plugging forward and working hard to get it done,” said Taylor. However, there are still challenges to be had. Two students had to go back to Japan and work from a strict quarantine. “My garments are not the same as everyone else’s. I’m making figure skating garments, and I will be finishing my garments after I come back to Japan. I’ll have to send the pictures to everyone,” said Manami Horikawa, a fashion student. Due to the quarantine and rules, they will have to stay at home and get creative with the modeling and backdrops. This is just one example of the creativity and determination these students are showing during these tough times.
“When the campus closed, students no longer had access to the sewing machines or equipment on campus. The students became creative problem solvers,” said Taylor. Nicole Ortiz is another designer who was making her entire line until the campus shutdown. She used her scene’s theme, indignation -meaning, anger or annoyance provoked by what is perceived as unfair treatment- as an opportunity to reach out to the seniors from her local high school who won’t be able to go to their prom this year. “I asked them to send me photos of them in their prom dresses, all dolled up,” said Ortiz. “In this case one of the joys of high school is being taken away, so I’m just trying to shine a light and give them an opportunity to wear their dresses and to be in a fashion show Lookbook.” “They all had to change something in their scenes, but they’re stepping up and making it all come together,” said Taylor. Sano said, “Having the fashion show online is new to us and to GCC, so it’s going to be a really unique and new thing.