Fashion, Flourish, Fioritura

MODE Fashion Group hosts first runway show in four years

Micah Lim, Staff Writer

On Friday, May 5, over 200 people rounded the border of Tiffany Loop at Seattle Pacific University, seated and standing. Lights strung high above glowed softly, and the eager patter of people’s voices expressed their anticipation for the event. It was a special night. For the first time in four years, SPU’s MODE Fashion Group revived its runway show. 

But unbeknownst to the patient audience, over 70 models, designers, stylists and volunteers crowded the downstairs lab in Peterson Hall as they set the finishing touches to their attire. It was fervid, a whirlwind of couture. 

Between flashes of gold sequins and bright fabric, fourth year apparel design and merchandising major and president of MODE Katie Taggart, weaved between it all, managing the event and her own collection. She had been waiting four years for this moment. 

“We had tried to do this fashion show our freshman year which would have been the 2019-2020 school year. And then we all got sent home for COVID,” Taggart said. “Anyone who had participated in the last one has graduated since. So, we’ve been doing online photoshoots in a digital format for the past few years. Trying to figure out this year and how to do a runway show, we had no clear roadmap of what we were doing. Clean slate, absolutely clean slate.”

The crowd stood excited and anxious, anticipating the show and apprehensive of the weather. Grey and heavy skies blanketed the scene. But the weather held out, and everything happened all at once. 

Junior apparel merchandising major Stephanie Menegon was both the model manager for MODE and the stylist of her own collection. 

“There were seventy of us in that little lab, trying to do our own thing but also making sure everyone else was ready and excited. Then, we had our little lineup, you hear your music, and then it’s like ‘oh my God, it’s my turn,’” Menegon said.

This 2023 theme was “artful expressions.” Outfits were styled and designed in the likeness of other artistic mediums such as paintings by Claude Monet or poems by Edgar Allen Poe. Art inspires art.

“I chose graffiti and street art as my artful expression for the theme,” Menegon said. “So, I focused on the street art that I see and how it brings color to cement walls. From the basics like jeans and tee shirts, I painted on them with messages for each one because graffiti has that messaging behind it.”

For Taggart, her designs focused on the artistic technique of pointillism, the application of colored dots forming images.

“There are no clear lines and it’s just layers and layers of dots. It’s an impressionist style. I played off that by making everything out of polka dots and I wanted to play with the concept of layering polka dots,” Taggart said. 

Accompanied by the music of the designers’ and stylists’ choice, the outfits paraded the loop, each of the 13 sets representing a diversity of styles, colors, textures, ideas and inspiration. And at the end, every model walked together to display MODE’s cumulative achievement. It was a success. 

At the reception, the audience and everyone involved celebrated both art and community.

Mali Mendez, freshman theater performance major, modeled for Kathrine Nteze who designed looks inspired by French impressionism. 

“Everything was really fun. Everything from the fittings and rehearsals, getting to try on the muslin mockups, being together with our designer who is so talented. We were so fortunate to be paired with Katherine and it was so great to be part of the process,” Mendez said. 

More than a fashion show, MODE is a community that desires to engage SPU’s campus. While the fashion industry can be cutthroat and non-inclusive, MODE embraces people from all backgrounds, shapes and sizes because everyone wears clothes. 

Fashion is a community, and students share in its potential to build relationships and inspire creativity with one another. The show, from the beginning to its encore, was inherently cooperative. 

Dr. Jaeil Lee, professor and chair of apparel design and merchandising, believes that more than the knowledge and skills, the fashion program seeks to impart values upon its students

“Fashion is really necessary. We need more Christian students to learn and be trained to go out to engage the culture and change the world through fashion. MODE will continue to do our work and hope that SPU can shine through our program,” Lee said. 

Now, having experienced trial, error and success, MODE feels ready for the future. The 2024 show will build upon this one, leaving a legacy. 

“Shoutout everyone. Honestly, every small little detail would not have been able to happen without literally everyone. The entire team, the models, the maintenance crew, makeup artists, volunteers, so many people helped with this,” Menegon said. 

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