Students fuse fashion with Latin influences

Models show off their clothing on stage in the Fuzion Latina/o Fashion Show 2005 at the Illini Union on Saturday night. Sponsored by the Illini Union Board, the show featured casual, business and formal dress. Josh Birnbaum

Models show off their clothing on stage in the “Fuzion Latina/o Fashion Show 2005” at the Illini Union on Saturday night. Sponsored by the Illini Union Board, the show featured casual, business and formal dress. Josh Birnbaum

By Janice Yi

Blaring spotlights and pulsating beats set the stage Saturday night for “Fuzion” – the Illini Union Board’s annual Latina/o fashion show – held at the Illini Union.

Event coordinator Ana Serafin-Gil, chair of Latina/o programs for Illini Union Board and senior in LAS, said the name “Fuzion” refers to the union of three elements: makeup, hair and style.

The show was comprised of six scenes of fall fashion: casual, business, formal, lingerie, nightlife and “Cut and Paste” – a showcase of clothing by University alumnus and budding fashion designer William Thornton who also is known as “Flick.”

Sophomore in Engineering David Ayento, who chaired the casual scene, said that the fashion show was one of the biggest events for Latinos on campus.

“This is a celebration of Latin culture,” Ayento said.

Despite having a Latino/a theme and purpose, the models, committee and audience were ethnically diverse. Serafin-Gil said that an estimate of 350 people attended. The attendants included students, family members of models and organizers and visiting alumni.

The event was sponsored in part by Gordmans, a department store located on the south side of Market Place Mall in Champaign. Gordmans donated the clothing donned by the models. The students themselves did style, hair and makeup.

“Clap it up, clap it up,” said a voice over the loudspeakers as the show began. The night’s emcee Calvin King, a graduate student, strolled out onto the stage, met by screams and hollers from the audience.

“What do y’all want to see tonight?” King said, holding the microphone out to the audience.

“Fashion!” the audience hollered back. The bass throbbed, the lights flashed and two models stepped out onto each end of the U-shaped, lighted catwalk-opening the first scene. They moved in synchronization to Madonna’s “Vogue” lyrics: “Don’t just stand there. Let’s get to it. Strike a pose. There’s nothin’ to it…”

The models stopped at various points and met at the center to strike a pose. The walks and poses had been pre-choreographed and rehearsed, and each was met by shouts and whistles from the audience. The show rotated through the various scenes; first casual, then business and last before intermission, came formal.

Jamee Handy, senior in ALS, modeled in several scenes throughout the show.

“I loved it,” she said afterwards. “It was absolutely great-fun, well organized … and the committee worked really hard and made sure we worked hard as well.”

During intermission, Dance 2XS Calient‚, a subgroup of the national dance troupe Dance 2XS, performed a dance interlude, fusing merengue and hip-hop with Latin beats.

“Now if that wasn’t calient‚, I don’t know what is,” King said over the noise of the audience as the dancers quit the stage.

The second half of the show brought the much-awaited lingerie scene, and upon its announcement by King, the audience roared in anticipation.

Stepping out of the curtain, the lingerie models appeared in all forms of sleepwear, from pajamas and camis to the more risqu‚ satin slips, dark hosiery and lace brassieres. On the male side, there were silk drawstrings, bathrobes and boxer shorts. From the audience rang a mixture of giggles and shouts of approval.

The finale of “Fuzion” displayed in creative runway choreography the clothing line of William Thornton, or “Flick,” and his style called “Flickology” in the scene aptly titled, “Cut and Paste.”

Senior in LAS Alexis Cervantes, who co-chaired the event, choreographed the “Cut and Paste” part of the show.

“Flick designs clothing with a very abstract, urban feel,” she said. “It’s called cut and paste because he literally cuts fabrics and sews them together.”

Thornton, a recent University alumnus, is now working in Chicago.

Anna Georgatos, audience member and freshman in LAS, said she not only enjoyed the night but found value in its purpose.

“I do think programs like these are beneficial,” she said. “They unite people from all different cultures.”

Vivian Ko, Illini Union Board area coordinator of cultural programs and the event’s supervisor, shared the sentiment.

“The purpose – as with all cultural programs like this one – is to show visibility for the minority,” Ko said. “And that is very important.”