Menomonie, Wis. – Modeling their senior capstone clothing collections on the runway is the culminating experience for fashion design and development students’ polytechnic education at University of Wisconsin-Stout.


 

For Reem Emerson, Emma Cinealis and Sofia Morin, who will graduate on Saturday, May 4, the WEAR Fashion Show is their opportunity to finally see their bridalwear, social awareness- and golf-inspired collections come to life.


 

WEAR will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, in the Memorial Student Center Great Hall. Tickets are required and are available to purchase online.


 

Ten seniors and one first-year student will show 45 outfits, modeled by the designers themselves, family, friends and alumni.


 

For their capstone, seniors each developed a four-look collection, creating their own design house, complete with brand names, marketing materials and business plans. Their collections will be on display at a trade show-style exhibit after the runway event in the MSC ballrooms, where attendees can meet the designers and see the garments up close.

 

Hosted by the WEAR Fashion Association student organization, WEAR is part of UW-Stout’s Spring Showcase of student-centered events in April and May.

 

View last year’s WEAR.

 

Other UW-Stout fashion-focused events include Fashion Without Fabric. The sold-out show on April 6, featured 117 sculptured costume designs by 3D Design first-year students, representing this year’s theme of Philias and Phobias. View Fashion Without Fabric.

 

Transcendence Drag and Burlesque celebrated Trans Day of Visibility on March 26. Hosted by the Involvement Center, the Qube and UW-Stout’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance, the cabaret is an alumnus-founded and produced, BIPOC-centered, trans/gender nonconforming troupe of performers.

 

Golden Age-inspired bridalwear


 

Emerson’s capstone collection is a bridalwear line inspired by her trip to the Netherlands a few years ago, when she toured the historic home of the famous painter Rembrandt.

 

“I was awed by his realistic still-life work,” she said. “These paintings from the Dutch Golden Age are iconic for highlighting the subject with dramatic lighting and setting them against a completely black background. This contrast intentionally highlights the subject so the viewer can see every detail painted.

 

“In bridalwear, we take a lot of care to ensure the bride is the main focus of her wedding. So, I wanted to create wedding garments that stand out, demand attention and force everything surrounding the bride to fade to the background.”

 

Emerson, who also has a degree in industrial design from UW-Stout, learned much of her hand-sewing techniques while interning last summer at Beauty By Design, in Minneapolis. She put it all to the test in her bridalwear collection.

 

“I learned a lot of couture dressmaking techniques at my internship. My collection is handmade with professionalism. Each piece was hand-designed, patterned and crafted. No detail is by chance,” she said. “I am very excited to show the black wedding dress from my collection. I feel that this specific dress really embodies my inspiration and is unlike anything currently available on the bridalwear market.”

 

Emerson, of St. Paul, enjoys exploring textures, fabric and silhouettes. “I love thinking outside the box and get really excited when I come up with something I know is trend-forward and not yet on the market,” she said.

 

Outfits with a deeper meaning

 

Cinealis’ inspiration for her collection, Don’t Ask, Don't Tell, was based on the struggles she’s faced with the public’s reaction towards her sexuality. The purpose of her collection is to bring awareness to the way that society treats the lesbian community.


 

Her outfit “Concealment” represents the constant fear that she feels when coming out to new people, while the outfit “Oversexualization” represents how sexualized society makes the lesbian community out to be.

 

Her outfit “Isolation,” an exaggerated puffer coat, represents the isolating feeling of being different from everyone and the constant reminder from the public of how different she’s made to feel. Cinealis loves the coat because it’s fun and different from anything else she’s done before.

 

But her favorite piece in her collection is “Hypermasculine,” a power suit that represents how society expects there to be a more masculine role in lesbian relationships.

 

“It’s the most detailed outfit and the closest related to what I want to do outside of college. I think the audience will understand the deeper meaning of this outfit the most,” she said.

 

Cinealis, of Sheboygan, enjoys the freedom of the initial sketching process. “I love the trial and error of seeing what I want to feature on an outfit and what I want to keep out,” she said.

 

Fashion, on par

 

Morin, of Buffalo, Minn., has golfed most of her life and played on the UW-Stout Blue Devils team her first year. Her collection, Tradition, is inspired by the characters she observed and interacted with during her time on the course.

 

“I was interested in the history of American golf, the roles that we consistently have that other countries do not and the personalities of the people that hold the roles. Specifically, ‘The Golfer,’ ‘The Caddy,’ ‘The Cart Girl,’ ‘The Groundskeeper’ and ‘The Member's Wife,’” she said.

Her favorite piece is her addition of the “Tradition Duffle,” a clubhouse classic that pulls the theme of her collection together.

“The shape is classic, and the lettering is nostalgic. But the materials and hardware give it a more modern and refined look,” Morin said. “I am not sure if it will walk the runway, but it will be displayed at the exhibit before and after the show.”

Her favorite part of the creation process was seeing the collection go from ideas to physical pieces. “It is so fulfilling to see the looks come to life on the model and watch how they can become the character I put them in,” she said.

Designing their careers

Cinealis, Emerson and Morin believe the program, its professors and internships have prepared them for their careers.

 

“We have gotten to learn everything that we could possibly be doing in our careers from sketching, creating tech flats and tech packs, patterning, draping, to sewing and tailoring,” Cinealis said. “Our professors also help us a lot with perfecting our portfolios and resumes. Stout has enhanced my skills as a designer, expanded my network and fully prepared me for my career post-graduation.”

 

Cinealis and Morin were hired before graduation. Cinealis will be an assistant designer at Kohl's in Menomonee Falls. Her twin sister, Ava, is also graduating this spring with a degree in applied biochemistry and molecular biology.

 

Morin plans to move to New York to start her career with Steve Madden on the Anne Klein fashion accessories team and will continue to grow her own accessory brand on the side.


 

“I am so impressed with all the work our professors and leaders are doing to push the program forward and give it the attention it deserves to grow strong designers and industry leaders,” she said.

Emerson is a freelance designer and bridal consultant in St. Paul and is interviewing for full-time positions where she can help companies bring ideas to life.


 

UW-Stout’s fashion design and development program is now part of the university’s College of Arts and Human Sciences design department.

 

The university’s 2022-23 First Destination Outcomes survey reported 100% of program graduates were either working within the industry with an average yearly salary of $53,000, or are continuing their education.

 

UW-Stout is Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University, with a focus on applied learning, collaboration with business and industry, and career outcomes. Learn more via the FOCUS2030 strategic plan.

 

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Steve Hanson
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Steve is a web designer and recently retired from running the hosting and development company Cruiskeen Consulting LLC. Cruiskeen Consulting LLC is the parent company of Wis.Community, and publication of this site continues after his retirement.

Steve is a member of LION Publishers and the Local Media Consortium, is active in Health Dunn Right, and is vice-president of the League of Women Voters of the greater Chippewa Valley

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