The Daily Illini

Fashion Week hits campus

When students hear the words “fashion week,” they probably think of New York, Paris and Milan. But what about Champaign?

New to campus this year is College Couture, the RSO responsible for planning the University’s first fashion week. Founders have been working for months to organize a week-long campus-wide event, all in the name of fashion.

College Couture’s mission is to enlighten students about fashion as a subculture of art, entertainment and everyday life, said Jenn Ruppert, junior in LAS and founding member of College Couture. The fashion week includes seven events, five that have already happened and two that are still to come.

The most highly anticipated fashion week event is the runway show this coming Sunday. Kenneth Crowder, senior in Media and one of the founders of College Couture, worked as the creative director for the show. Crowder has been planning runway shows since his freshman year.

The theme for the Campus Couture Week runway show is Identity.

“In the show, there are seven different scenes, each based on a different sort of stereotype of men and women,” Crowder said.

The scenes range from technology to victim to goddess, some using drama to play up the theme. The show will feature clothing made by students and professional designers from Champaign and Chicago, as well as music from Positive Vibr8tions and a performance by Dance2XS Caliente.

Thursday night, College Couture will be hosting Couture Night Out at the Clybourne in Champaign. The dress-to-impress event is open to the whole campus. Attendees aren’t required to dress up, but Ruppert suggests that fashion lovers “go all out.”

“The whole concept of the night is to appreciate and celebrate fashion,” she said. “All of the staff and cocktail waitresses will be dressed up too.”

While fashion lovers can look forward to Thursday and Sunday nights’ events, the club has already hosted several successful events. Last Sunday, the week kicked off with Illini’s Next Top Model, where students competed in several events, similar to America’s Next Top Model, Ruppert said.

Finalists were photographed by Gino Baileau, sophomore in FAA, on Monday. The photos are posted on the College Couture Facebook page and the winner will be featured in Sunday’s runway show.

Baileau, an aspiring fashion and beauty photographer, has been published in several magazines and has received a lot of media attention, including recognition from Perez Hilton on his blog

On Wednesday, College Couture hosted a trunk show called “The Fashion Experience.” Local boutiques and student designers will present student-inspired designs in a mini-fashion show. Tables and booths will be set up to showcase artists and student organizations, Ruppert said. Music will also be provided by DJ’s KNIGHTS and COCOquette.

Earlier in the week, College Couture also brought in speakers, including Nora Del Busto, a professional designer from Chicago, Susan Becker, who teaches the University’s only fashion course and Nikia Jefferson, a University alumna and well-known fashion blogger.

Gordana Rasic, junior in LAS, is one of the student designers featured this week. For her, College Couture Week provides the many students interested in fashion the opportunity to work together, talk about fashion and bring awareness to campus.

“It brings unity to the fashion world here,” she said. “It gives everyone — photographers, designers, models — a chance to work with one another.”

Thomas Mui, a recent University graduate and founder of College Couture, is one of the main sponsors of College Couture Week, with his clothing company, Tom & John’s Chocolate Factory. His company helped pay for banners, signs and a red carpet to be used on Couture Night Out. He also provided shirts for the Dance2XS Caliente performance.

“Aside from Tom’s funding, we’ve been working on a zero dollar budget,” Ruppert said. “A lot of our resources have come from networking and volunteer work.”

While celebrating fashion, College Couture is also raising money for an important organization in the fashion world. This week, the club has been selling red roses to benefit Designers Against AIDS. The RSO will continue to sell roses throughout the weekend.

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