Last month, Crystal Bridges Museum of Art became a glamorous runway of beauty and creativity as senior students showcased a stunning collection of garments representing their personal style evolution.
Enclothe is the UA student-led fashion show produced by the seniors of the apparel merchandising and product development program each year. This year, the show was on April 26th and featured 81 garments.
The student leaders split the show into two identical events at 5:15 p.m. and 6:45 p.m.. Before each show, ticket holders could attend an exclusive pre-show event, which included cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a pop-up shop. Models were at the shop, wearing brand-new designs from Dillard’s and Venita Aspen, an influencer and designer showcasing her latest collection.
The theme of this year’s show was “Evolve.” Senior creative directors Simeon Smith and Haylea Naylor explained that the evolution of clothing over time partly inspired the theme.
“We noticed a lot of garments going from natural materials to super-futuristic and new innovative styles and silhouettes,” Smith said. “We saw a full circle of evolution of clothing from beginning to end and kind of life itself.”
Naylor said the theme also represented the growth of the students in the program.
“We’re also showcasing how a lot of our students have had to overcome certain circumstances and evolved into the person they are today,” Naylor said. “That’s why we chose ‘Evolve.’ Everything kind of went around growth and becoming who we are today.”
2023 was the second year Crystal Bridges hosted the show, and the museum became a striking kaleidoscope between the decor, shop, and garments of all colors and styles.
The team was excited to return to this location, assistant director Carleigh Foreman said.
“The environment of Crystal Bridges is the perfect fit for our show, because I think it highlights the art and meaning behind the designer’s garments,” Foreman said.
After the fashion show, an academic and achievement-based award show took place.
Enclothe began in 2015 when a senior AMPD major wanted her honors thesis to be a collection of garments. In response, her advanced apparel teacher decided to turn her thesis into a fashion show for all of the program’s seniors.
The show has grown steadily over the years and is a way for students to prove their work ethic and career readiness, Naylor said.
Naylor said she always loved fashion but was unsure if she could make it her job. She was initially a business major but immediately switched after attending NWA Fashion Week as a freshman, she said.
“Being in the space with all of these creative minds and really awesome garments, I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is the kind of environment I need to be in,’” Naylor said.
Smith’s interest also began at a young age.
“I started collecting shoes in 6th grade and it grew from there,” Smith said. “It evolved into fashion and full outfits and styling. As I went down the fashion rabbit hole and learned way more about it, I developed a really strong passion for what I want to do. I really want to make an impact in the denim industry and the ethics behind that.”
For Naylor and Smith, as well as the rest of the show’s creative team, fashion has been a passion of theirs since childhood. Attending the UofA showed them it could be more than a hobby.
“We’re mainly just trying to continue to show that our major is more than just messing around,” Naylor said. “There’s a stigma around fashion majors that we are just making mood boards and being on Pinterest all day, so we’re trying to show that there’s a lot more that goes behind that.”
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