Fashion Show Leverages Student Talent From Multiple Disciplines

Columbia students come together to produce and promote an end-of-year showcase of student fashion designs.

Sometimes an event is more than an event. It’s an opportunity.  

And that’s what students from different disciplines at Columbia College Chicago learned with this year’s Made@Columbia* fashion show, which was held twice during Columbia’s celebration of student work — the Manifest Arts Festival.  

From designing the looks to producing the show’s film clips to branding and promoting the event itself, Made@Columbia provided Columbia students a platform to apply their talents and skills while growing their know-how in various fields.  

Creating the Buzz 

In Assistant Professor Tom Eslinger’s Fashion Advertising class, students developed the branding and promotions around the show and the VIP pre-event where this year’s Made@Columbia designers met members of the fashion industry. Their mission: To promote the event and develop everything from marketing to social media, including store front windows for each designer.

“It’s all been very hands-on,” says Ava Gotzkowsky, a senior studying Communication. “And it was an opportunity to solidify my writing abilities.” 

Senior Graeme Cote, an Advertising major who is getting a minor in Graphic Design, acknowledges that the project had its frustrations, but the pay-off was worth it.  

“It's a good experience,” he says. “And it's a great resume piece.”  

students at table in classroom

Truly a Team Effort 

Eslinger’s students weren’t the only ones to create work for their portfolios. Associate Professor Jeffrey Spitz’s Advanced Topics in Documentary: Fashion Production class created film shorts for the fashion show, featuring designer interviews and behind-the-scenes footage of the designers and models at work. To promote accessibility, ASL Assistant Professor Matt Andersen and Associate Professor Angela Malcomson brought in ASL students to incorporate interpretation into the films.   

Other students and student groups who helped with the fashion show included:  

  • Art Direction in Fashion students who focused on the development of the show and all the design and preparation that goes into it. 
  • Models from Picture Perfect, a campus organization that helps aspiring student models, designers, and media creatives learn the skills needed to thrive in the fashion industry. 
  • Photographers, including Jordan Jefferson ’24 who was the photography producer for the show’s look book. 
  • Graphic Design students Gracie Bloom and Sophia Ricciardi who put together the show’s program booklet.  
  • Audio Soundscape Organizer Annabella Thourton ’24, an Audio Arts and Fashion Studies major, who helped build excitement just prior to the show via sound. 
  • Journalism major Miranda Bucio ’24 and senior Haven Hathaway who wrote articles for the fashion show program book. 

Designers Take Center Stage 

At the center of it all, though, were the student designers themselves. 

“The designer is pretty much the glue of this interdisciplinary effort,” says Justin Dougan-LeBlanc who teaches Art Direction in Fashion. 

The four designers featured in the show — Adam Salame, Norma Espinoza, Madison Chain, and Lexie Jones (see photo below) — developed their collections for their BFA thesis classes with Assistant Professor Jenny Leigh DuPuis and Associate Professor Virginia Heaven, who recently retired after 22 years of teaching.

four designers standing in front of fox 32 tv station sign

Each designer created ten looks for the show and presented their unique style, drawing inspiration from everything from their heritage to marine biology to body image to queer culture.  

The fashion shows attracted large crowds who cheered on the models and designers. But as Dougan-LeBlanc noted, the show represented more than just fashion student work, but that of so many other talented students.  

“Everything that people saw was decided by the students.”  


*Note: Made@Columbia is a student-run, collaborative fashion show made possible by a grant from the Driehaus Design Initiative. The Fashion Studies Department also received support from Macy’s for Manifest activities.