Otis College of Art and Design on Saturday will stage its first fashion show and annual scholarship benefit at home — on the Elaine and Bram Goldsmith Campus in Westchester, Calif.
As always, the event brings students together with talent from the fashion and entertainment industries, which this year includes mentors from Bally, Universal, Marvel Studios and Ironhead Studio. This year’s special gala guest is Jason Wu.
Featuring more than 125 designs from junior and senior fashion students, the show’s segments each have specific creative direction from the industry mentors, with the overall theme of “Celestial Bodies.”
Mentors and Otis alumni include Rod Beattie of Bleu, Marisol Bradford of NBC Universal, Chris Chang of Poesia and Sapna von Sick of Alo Yoga. Additional mentors include Claudia Cividino, Bally’s chief executive officer, Americas; costume designer Louise Mingenbach of the “X-Men” and “Superman” films; Jose Fernandez of Ironhead Studios; Johnson Hartig of Libertine, and Davora Lindner of Prairie Underground.
Of particular note is the collaboration students have had with Universal as represented for the third year by Marisol Bradford, vice president of production and design and Universal Brand Development, who challenged students with creating garments inspired by the “Jurassic World” franchise.
While using the pattern of dinosaur DNA was one of the directives, Bradford said, “I wanted to make sure that students captured the Jurassic-brand DNA. In order to do so, they got an inside look at the upcoming 2018 feature film ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.’ I also wanted to give students broad direction to work against, so I challenged them to create designs that highlight evolution.” Of why she chose the sportswear category, she said, “I felt that a sportswear collection was a perfect fit to visually connect the Jurassic jungle to the concrete jungle.”
Students were also asked to address the theme of recycling by including one sustainable piece per outfit, which included upcycled garments. With the overarching “Celestial Bodies” theme, Bradford’s take was “the terrestrial effect of the heavens to the dinosaurs and their extinction. Within the theme of evolution, you’ll see the iconic phrase from the Jurassic franchise, ‘Life finds a way.'”
In addition, Fernandez, the owner of Ironhead Studios, is a leading costume designer for numerous Hollywood productions, including many of the Marvel Studios films. Mingenbach, a close collaborator with Fernandez, is responsible for costumes featured in the “X-Men” franchise as well as feature films “Hancock” and the upcoming “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” Both designers challenged seniors with creating an eveningwear collection based on the signs of the Zodiac.
On the other end of the spectrum, Cividino tasked students with creating a collection of refined luxury separates for men and women inspired by the earth, using shape, proportion and natural fabric mixes that paid homage to Bally’s heritage.
“My focus was to help the students to think about the whole cycle of design, from the inspiration to the realization of a design, which was brand-appropriate, felt luxurious and elevated while being also commercial. They were asked to design with the client in mind. The work is clothing with a small emphasis on accessories,” said Cividino.
“I was completely blown away by the quality of the work overall. As in every setting, you have varying degrees of talent and varying degrees of work ethic, but the baseline for the students was very high. I was once a young design student myself, so I have lived that life and I am deeply touched and impressed by the quality of the instruction and attention these students receive. That attention is a complete game-changer for them,” she added.
Cividino’s advice for students hoping to find employment was this: “Our industry is increasingly demanding and a designer today cannot work in a creative bubble. They are part of a quickly moving dynamic. It is not enough today to be creative. One has to operate within an organization successfully and this requires communication skills as well as the ability to work with ambiguity and complexity.”