Fashion Nirvana Curators Chat with Student Designers


Posted on April 30, 2020


Fashion Nirvana Curators Chat with Student Designers

Fashion Nirvana Curators Chat with Student Designers

Rosemary Hickman

Semmes Foundation Education Manager 


Last week, I had the pleasure of sitting in on a virtual meeting with the curators of Fashion Nirvana: Runway to Everyday and students from Bracken Christian School. Kate Carey, Head of Education, Lauren Thompson, Assistant Curator, and Alexis Meldrum, Semmes Foundation Intern in Museum Studies collaborated for most of 2019 to organize the McNay’s first-ever exhibition dedicated to fashion and video art.


Meanwhile, students at Bracken Christian School created unique fashion designs, but had not been able to visit the exhibition in person. Their teacher Susan Boyd, who knows me from the Spotlight program, asked about the possibility of a virtual tour of Fashion Nirvana. I can speak for the education team here and say that we really miss interacting with students in the Museum. Knowing the curators as the devoted educators and all-around good people they are, I told Mrs. Boyd that I would get in touch and the date was set within hours.


The videoconferencing tour started with a Fashion Nirvana walkthrough and some Q&A. Referring back to designs in the exhibition, the students and curators made their way through the video at a slower pace, pointing out details and trends in 90s fashion. The conversation then shifted to the student designs.


Referencing biblical verses as inspiration, students first drew their designs and then sourced fabrics to create them on fashion plates. They paid special attention to the orientation of patterns, added details like zippers, high heels, and sunglasses, and solved problems like getting fabric to gather in a desired way. All challenges that designers face in studio.


Curators compared student designs to garments made by fashion powerhouses like Versace. Thinking about the themes explored in the exhibitions, they talked about where the student designs would fit in the show, like the section devoted to Legends & Youngbloods.


Here are some of the curator comments: 

Light of the World

I believe you mentioned having some inspiration in Versace, and you nailed it. The design has edge and makes use of a bold pattern, and a look like this could get you hired as a designer for a brand like that!
—Alexis

This dress and jacket combo would be perfect for any occasion! The large floral print of the dress is feminine and fun, while the zipper detail of the jacket adds a little bit of edge. This ensemble looks like it came straight off the runway.
—Lauren

I thought it was really genius to incorporate an actual zipper on your jacket. Also the combination of jacket and floral print (with a cool slit) felt very 90s to me. I think that combination of tough and feminine is something that a lot of people responded to.
—Kate
Inner Strength

I am still in awe at the innovation and attention to detail that went into this ensemble. So clever to cut out all the little roses, and that resourcefulness reminds me of designer Todd Oldham and his use of eclectic materials.
—Alexis

Fashion is all about balance. I love that you balanced out the simplicity of the tank top with the embellished boot-cut jeans. The ombré effect of the roses on the jeans was a great idea and is highly effective! Where can I buy a pair?
—Lauren

I really love the way you combined denim and flowers in your design. Using three-dimensional flowers definitely took your design to the next level, and I like how you have combined imagery that speaks to softness and strength—it’s possible to have both.
—Kate

Out of Egypt


This dress has such an elegant design, and the layered skirt with two delicate pieces would flow beautifully either down the runway or down the aisle. Kudos for figuring out how to make the skirt turn out the way you envisioned, the two fabrics work wonderfully together.
—Alexis

This delicate and flowy wedding dress would make any bride smile on their special day! Many designers included in Fashion Nirvana, including Victor Costa, Oscar de la Renta, and Vera Wang, have bridal lines. Vera Wang said she always makes sure brides can dance in the dresses she makes, and I am sure your bride would dance the night away in this stunning dress.
—Lauren


Thanks for chiming in on the call. I loved your description of the dress representing a new start, like the bible verse describing a new start. Also, I think your layered technique of sheer over a solid panel is cool and consistent with a lot of 1990s fashion design.
—Kate
In the Fire

A form-fitting dress like this would have been a hit in the 90s and is still a hit today. This dress makes me imagine the type of invincible woman that might wear it, evading the fire like the verse you chose.
—Alexis

The inspiration for this dress really comes through. Like fire, this dress is mesmerizing and dynamic. I like the off-the-shoulder detail and pop of red on the shoes.
—Lauren

The fire dress is really a creative design. As I said on the call, I think it is quite clever that you considered an overall look and tied the flame imagery into the neckline, hemline, and shoes! Smart.
—Kate
Sunshine

I. Want. This. Skirt. This whole design is so cohesive, and I can see your attention to detail shine through with the way the patterns lay. And who doesn't love a 90s shades moment?
—Alexis

A sheer, neutral blouse and plaid miniskirt are timeless wardrobe staples! I love that you chose to show your ensemble with accessories. The round sunglasses and pink, lace-up shoes add a touch of attitude and individuality.
—Lauren

I love the way you paired a bold plaid in the skirt with a more subtle floral pattern on the top. Also, the socks and shoes are a really thoughtful touch, as well as the sunglasses. I can see someone wanting to wear that today AND in the 1990s.
—Kate


A huge thanks to Bracken Christian School for sharing their creativity with us! Interested in chatting with Museum staff? Email education@mcnayart.org.

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