“Hard times arouse an instinctive desire for authenticity.”Jenn Regehr, one of the newly graduated students and designers ofÂ John Casablancas Institute, quoted this famous Coco Chanel quote when describing how class 132′s graduation fashion showÂ “Wasted Youth”Â exemplified just that. “When times are rough, clothes can go into survival mode or come out to be crazy, and I believe that has a lot to do with our collection and theme tonight”, she says.
“Wasted Youth” found family and friends of the graduates, volunteers, photographers, aspiring fashion art students, and other passionate guests filling up a wonderfully decorated Heritage Hall on June 8th to see a student-run fashion show that was heavily influenced by current events in world issues, politics, natural disasters, and the anticipation of doomsday. While the title of the show posed no deliberate theme, the progression of the show illustrated ruin, rebuild, and rebirth; a process that takes place after every natural disaster before a new beginning presents itself. But why use youth as a focal point for the show?
Brittany De Fehr, one of the stylists who was responsible for all visuals projected onscreen and presented in the programs, says “there has been so much going on, and it’s our generation that’s going to be affected by it, and there’s a lot of pressure on us to do something now. ‘Wasted Youth’ shows how were forced to grow up so fast because of this.”
Jenn adds: “I think it’s relevant because the youth is the future, and with everything that’s happening right now in the world, we’ve really been affected by it and we’ve really just become the focus on that. And there’s that stereotype that youth don’t really care what is happening and are never really involved in it, and we don’t believe that at all. Obviously it directly affects us, and that’s why we wanted to do a show about that. And also we’re considered youth so it’s kind of fitting.”
Over 60 different outfits, styles, and original pieces were assembled and presented, and it was very obvious that these youths knew exactly what was going on, and took a keen interest in current events. The first sets of outfits were very dark, transparent, revealing, raw, tight, edgy, and brought about an eerie essence when combined with the heavy and sinister music selection. This, along with the visuals projected on a large screen (images of violent warfare, graffiti phrases like “I’m your prostitute”).
So why was it important for the graduates to present these problematic events through fashion as opposed to just talking about them or listening to them on the news?
“Everything that’s going on has direct correlation with what we choose to wear” says Jenn.Â Marlee Worthen, who was the assistant secretary to the production explains, “We wanted to touch on something more meaningful than other fashion shows. Our show goes from dark, destruction to very light and flowy, and we felt that this cycle on how things happen during a natural disaster would be interesting to show through the clothes.” The transition from rebellion to loose-fitting, light colored, bohemian attire was interesting, and was successful in expressing the rebirth stage of the show.
Judging by the powerfulness of the show, I assumed that the students in group 132 had some direct connection with the past string of unfortunate events. “I don’t know if anyone personally has, but we all know someone that’s been affected by something happening somewhere,” Brittany says. This is the same for both Jenn and Marlee, who adds, “our net proceeds are going towards the Looking Glass Foundation for eating Disorders, and growing up I had a lot of friends that have been hospitalized from them.”
Most of the fashions shown were eccentric and bold, and I couldn’t help but think if there was some sort of extent that youth stop at when it comes to expressing themselves through their clothes. Money can obviously act as a barrier when it comes to uniqueness through clothing, but besides that, there is the whole issue of being ‘labeled’ amongst peers in high school as Brittany explained to me: “In elementary school and high school, you’re so suppressed to being one certain way. There are so many different people and many different personalities when you’re going through high school, so a lot of people don’t really get to express themselves there.”
Marlee makes a point in saying that the graduating group is known for making a difference through their fashion. The impact of fashion and creativity is felt strongly upon by the students who presented their materials at “Wasted Youth”…do you agree? Congratulations to group 132 at John Casablancas on a successful fun and informative show!
Image styled by Leanne McLoughlin