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  • Writer's pictureHANNA BABEK

The many themes of senior fashion collections

Jonathan Pryce modeling menswear for Johana Dhivers’s collection. Photo courtesy of Johana Dhivers

Every senior fashion design student spends most of their year creating their final collection. For many, this is their pride and joy, with the seven final garments being the culmination of everything they’ve learned during their time at Lasell.

Each student creates a collection based around an idea or theme, which they begin developing over the summer before their senior year. They are required to create 100 sketches, which they narrow down to 10 potential designs to present to their professors. From there, they select seven final designs for their garments and begin producing their pieces.

Cassidy Phillips’s collection, “Spiritual Beauty,” combines the inspiration of a dream-like state of mind and aspects of Christian spirituality, with the image of doves recurring throughout her garments. She describes the theme of her collection, saying, “It evokes a feeling of when you think of a dream.” Phillips says, “It feels very light and airy.”

Creating a senior collection is unlike any other projects fashion design students experience in their underclassmen years. Phillips says, “Overall, throughout your years as a fashion student, there's always some sort of requirement. But as a senior, you can do whatever you want to have creative freedom, which is really nice.”

She chose to design mostly evening wear, with many gowns and dresses. Phillips says her most unique garment is a corset and pant ensemble with a dove wing structure coming off it. She’s also proud of the three-tiered wedding dress she created.

“I can definitely say there was blood, sweat, and tears going into this entire collection,” Phillips says, recalling the difficulties she faced while producing her corset. “There's a lot of steps to it, and it's a lot of work. But my model is great, and I'm very happy with how it came out. There were ups and downs, but thankfully everything is coming together.”

Because seniors are given such creative freedom, the collections have a wide range of styles and inspiration. Sean Spina’s interest in costume design led him to create a collection that tells a fairytale story through his designs.

Francesca Toews modeling a piece for Sean Spina’s collection. Photo courtesy of Sean Spina

“The Songbird’s Longing of Woodland Romance” was inspired by French mythology and stories of wizards, fairies, and witches. The collection tells the story of a bird fairy girl who longs to be human. After a wizard turns her into a human, she falls in love with a prince. She is kidnapped by a witch and saved by her prince, who she marries and has her happily ever after with.

Spina says the story began as a simple fairytale but began to mean more. He says, “As I developed it more and more, I wanted the story to sort of be about being accepted and being loved for yourself and not societal expectations.”

He was able to convey the characters and their story by intertwining details through the different garments. The characters’ looks have similar color palettes and construction, with all of the princess’s garments having sweetheart necklines and hints of ivy-patterned fabric.

“It's all just about small things that the audience might not realize, but it tells us a lot about the character through what they're wearing,” Spina says.

Fellow senior Johanna Dhivers’s collection was inspired by changes in African fashion.

“African Excellence” features many colorful garments with different prints with the goal of showing how African fashion has changed by combining tradition with modern looks.

“Just as fashion moves, African fashion also moves with it by sticking to some part of the culture,” Dhivers says. “This collection is an invitation to the discovery of modern African fashion.”

Dhivers began her process by researching the culture surrounding African fashion, including the traditional patterns and fabrics, as well as when and where certain garments are worn.

She worked around the clock to ensure her collection was funded and complete, saying, “I was working two jobs to be able to buy the materials needed for the collection and could only work on the garments at night.”

Dhivers also faced difficulties with finding consistent models for her pieces, as she had to change models three times for various reasons.

“When that happens, we designers usually have to restart from the beginning because garments are usually tailored to fit a specific person," says Dhivers, “And if we are lucky, we could find someone with the same measurements, but it's very rare.”

Her final collection includes children's wear, knitwear, a couture garment, and two ready-to-wear garments, along with her favorite pieces, the menswear, and tailored jacket.


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