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Marist Students Lead the Industry to the Virtual World of Fashion Shows

Apr 22, 2020

By Erica Capobianco

The fashion industry has been put on hold indefinitely. Across the globe, production lines are at a halt, brick and mortar stores close their doors, and runway shows are canceled. The once-bustling and boisterous world of fashion and apparel has gone silent. Just as the world is uncertain of the near future, the fashion industry also wonders if they can ever return to a state of normalcy.

Fashion schools across the country are not exempt from this global interruption. Tucked in the Hudson Valley is Marist College, home to one of the most prestigious fashion programs in the world. For the last three months, Marist’s Fashion Show Production (FSP) students were busy at work producing the 34th Annual Silver Needle Runway, to be held Friday, May 8th. Fashion Show Production, a unique class offered to Marist Fashion majors and minors, is responsible for all aspects of the show’s production, from its ideation to creation. Led by six Senior directors, whose responsibilities range from Creative Execution, Digital Media, Communications, Website Marketing and Social Media, and Production, the class of 35 works diligently for months on end to produce this professional and widely attended event.

This year, the annual Silver Needle Runway (SNR), would transform their traditional runway show into a platform for sustainable advocacy- a trending and pressing topic surrounding the fashion industry. The show’s theme, titled, awaken, challenging the notion that fashion and sustainability can coincide with one another, was both a daunting challenge and a tremendous accomplishment for the program and its renowned reputation.

Though when news hit that Marist College had made the decision to move the remainder of their spring semester classes online, these directors were faced with their greatest challenge. How can the show go on?

Tatum Flood, one of this year’s Production Directors, reflects on her reaction, and her innate optimism for finding a solution.

“I knew that all of our hard work would in no way go to waste. Why give up? Why not work even harder to show who we really are? We thought about all different ideas on making SNR into a “virtual” experience. This would be something that anyone, even people who weren’t going to be at the show could watch. In fact, this is even a bigger opportunity for SNR to get great exposure by being so easily accessible on every social platform.”

Despite the evolving technology that the industry has at its disposal, such as virtual and augmented reality and 3D design, fashion brands have been hesitant to let go of some of the industry’s long-standing traditions, including live fashion shows. However, these Marist Fashion students are leading the industry by example, determined to transform their traditional fashion show into a memorable virtual event. Who knows, this could, in fact, become the new norm!

With the guidance of the FSP team and directors, Marist Fashion’s senior designers will adapt to a new platform to showcase their final collections, remotely. Alexa Cerza, Production Director, said, herself and her fellow directors “did not want to lose the opportunity to showcase some of Marist Fashion’s most talented students.”

Unlike shows in the past, Callie Rasnake and Alexis Broadnax, this year’s Creative and Digital Media Directors, share there will be a new documentary component, showcasing the senior directors’ show vision and how it has evolved amidst the global pandemic.

Website and Social Media Director, Claire DeBenedittis adds that the documentary hopes to “provide light during this dark time by reminding our fashion community that we are all in this together.”

On March 31st, the Virtual SNR show was announced on social media with a new promotional video. Since then, Ashley Camuso, the Communications Director, has been hard at work, rebranding the event as an interactive, digital experience. Though the circumstances we are living in are less than ideal, Ashley shares how, now more than ever, the world needs positivity. “While there is so much negativity surrounding COVID-19, there is even more opportunity and chance. Our fashion show’s theme is titled awaken which we find oddly fitting for our society right now. This pandemic has caused irreversible damage, but it has also given us all an opportunity. It has awakened our perspectives of the world and reminded us of what is truly important.” Ashley continues, sharing that she hopes the pursuit of a virtual adaptation of SNR will provide comfort and community to the college and the fashion industry alike.

The process of creating a virtual event has been far from easy for these young fashion professionals. Alexa Cerza, continues on how the final product of what Virtual SNR will be is uncertain, “Given the current landscape, I’m sure it (Virtual SNR) will continue to change. I think that’s the beauty of our project; we’ve created something that is dynamic. Virtual SNR isn’t just a backup plan anymore, it is something that can evolve in years to come.”

Virtual SNR, premiering on YouTube Friday, May 8th, hopes to attract industry professionals’ attention, reminding them that like the ever-changing world we live in, fashion too can adapt to the times. Though the question still remains, what does this mean for the future of fashion?

Once our world returns to somewhat normalcy, we can expect the fashion industry to return to its hustle and regular routine. While fashion shows are most likely not leaving us anytime soon, this pandemic will reinforce how fashion must learn to adapt new technologies in their brand communication. This is a time for brands to experiment, to see what is out there and how to evolve. With businesses strategizing how to implement sustainability, perhaps these virtual events are the answer.

Experience Virtual SNR34 on YouTube Friday, May 8th, 2020

For all Press Inquiries please contact:

Ashley Camuso Student Communications Director at Marist Fashion Ashley.camuso1@marist.edu

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