The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

CFE.4 showcases camp with eco-friendly garments

James Hoeck
Circular Fashion Expo runway model covered in an assortment of stuffed animals poses in the lower level of Siebel Center for Design on Saturday night.

Click hear to read the review

Twirling, crawling, slow-motion walking and tea parties — all of these went down at this year’s Circular Fashion Expo runway. Models strolled up and down the ramps of the Siebel Center for Design on Saturday wearing ombré dresses, corset tops, skirts covered in stuffed animals, poofy red dresses and much more.     

As large crowds lined the inside of the building, models emerged to start their walk at the bottom of the ramps and followed the path that led to the judge’s table.

This year’s theme, “A Camp Sensibility,” shined through in the models’ choice of attire. The designers were able to create their looks based on their definition of camp — a word that means to express oneself sincerely while also being extravagant or over-the-top.

William Hohe, junior in FAA and Media, is the lead organizer of CFE and president of The Fashion Network, which is a fashion-centered registered student organization.     

“This (year’s goal) was to make sure that the humans in it were enjoying it as much as the humans outside of it were,” Hohe said. “Making sure that we’re respecting each other and making sure that we’re putting each other at an equilibrium, not a hierarchy, because it is a club and with that your power dynamics and hierarchy comes into play, but coming together as a community is really important.”  

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
Thank you for subscribing!

Starting the runway portion of CFE.4 was the TFN Executive Board Walk. An executive member strode up the ramp wearing blue Crocs and a blue puffy jacket. Hohe wore a skirt complimented with a green beret, black boots and a purple jacket. Another member was dressed in an all-white outfit featuring white flared sleeves, a leotard, tights and hair.

The Design Competition followed — a section of CFE for the judges panel to give awards to different designers for various categories. The first model to walk the runway was clothed in a white shirt and pants, while covered with black and green patches. The model’s head cover was decorated with multi-colored spikes. 

To the song “Applause” by Lady Gaga, a model squatted in front of the camera wearing a tie-dye shirt and skirt, open-toed pink shoes and yellow hoop earrings. To the audience’s surprise, an individual crawled up the runway with black boots and an all-black outfit.

Cameras flashed as photographers ran up the runway beginning the next section spotlighting BLINKD, a portrait photography RSO. One of the models strutted the stage with a white corset top and feathery angel wings.  

The Kat Walk Modeling Agency showcase began with various “Alice in Wonderland” characters gathered together to have a tea party.     

Lizbeth Garcia-Lopez, senior in LAS, played the Queen of Hearts in the reenactment.

“I DIY-ed my collar with cards,” Garcia-Lopez said. “I’m wearing a red corset and then I took a little petticoat and then just added hearts to it. (I) painted my face completely white, did blue eyeshadow, red lipstick, the classic Queen of Hearts look, and then I did her little space buns with a tiara.”   

While walking on the runway, Garcia-Lopez said she felt mischievous, conniving and evil in the character, but also thrilled and excited.   

“It was so much fun because the theme being camp let us be really theatrical and just go all out, tap into characters that we were being,” Garcia-Lopez said. “I was walking alongside my other Queen of Hearts … and we got to point to the crowd, accuse people of stealing our tarts, telling people we were gonna off their heads.”

The final event showcased TFN. All the models stood in a group at the bottom of the ramp and paraded up the runway one by one. As “California Girls” by Katy Perry played, a model with a black rhinestone outfit, red boots, gloves and a bow carried an umbrella with rhinestones posed for the audience. Another model displayed a skirt covered in stuffed animals, with bulky pink Crocs as shoes and octopi toys attached to their bra.    

Calin Wallace, sophomore in LAS, chose to inspire her look from the popular children’s book “A Bad Case of Stripes” by David Shannon.

“I was trying to think of something that was creative, but that I was going to feel comfortable in, and ‘A Bad Case of Stripes’ was the first thing that popped in my head,” Wallace said.   

CFE.4 was Wallace’s second runway. She said she felt less nervous and carried confidence with her while presenting her outfit.    

“I was definitely a lot more confident,” Wallace said. “I felt confident in my outfit, and it’s just a really nice and inspiring, in a way, experience, because you get to be with people that are creative like you, and it’s something you could do in your free time.”  

Everything utilized in CFE is sustainably sourced, according to organizers. The pieces featured are typically vintage, sourced secondhand or recycled that would otherwise be discarded, Hohe said.  

“So for instance, everything you see on the runway is fashion trash,” Hohe said. “And that’s all that clothing you see would have been wasted or thrown away. So that’s a way to give it a longer life because it’s about circularity, which is the model of the economy where we are elongating the livelihood of all these different products rather than just relying them as a one-use and being wasteful.”      

Izzi Hall, senior in LAS and FAA, had attended previous runways and CFEs. She said she looked forward to seeing the students’ creativity in their outfits each year. 

“I always love it,” Hall said. “I’ve been coming since the first (CFE). So it’s always really fun to just come to this atmosphere and see the thrifting and everybody’s outfits too. Also the runway and the shows and there’s always that performative aspect, so it’s always just fun.”     

After the runway concluded at the end of the night, Hohe said they felt relieved and grateful.

“Because (CFE) was such a huge undertaking … there were a lot of curveballs along the way, a lot of ups and downs, things that I’ve never dealt with as a leader that really tested the camaraderie and the cohesion of our club and our members and our exec in it,” Hohe said.  

Still, Hohe said they deemed the event a success. They explained how much the event has grown from its inception.

“I started out first semester freshman year and deciding to do this club or not,” Hohe said. “And it’s like my whole trajectory of what I want to do with my life passed this, and then what I ended up evolving into was because of this club. So it’s lovely to have that sense of transformation, but also showing up for this club every day for three years. It’s awesome to just feel like this part of you has so much to do with the roles you took on, and then learning and grinding with all these people that you worked with since you were a freshman.”        


[email protected] 

More to Discover
About the Contributor
James Hoeck, Photo Editor
Heyo! I am James Hoeck, a third-year undergraduate student in photography with a minor in media. I have been a part of Illini Media for two years, starting back in fall 2021. I hold the position of Photo Editor here at The Daily Illini. I also work as Photo Editor for Illini Media’s Illio Yearbook. There is a good chance you will see me out and about on campus taking photos for my personal work or for The DI and/or Illio! If you want to check out more of my work, visit my socials linked below.
ILLordle: Play now