Runway at the mall: Rowan showcases student fashions

Christine Harkinson/The Sun
Rowan College at Burlington County student Ari Sanchez-Torres will debut her clothing collection, Finding the True Light, at the May 10 Cherry Hill mall fashion show.

The Rowan College at Burlington County annual fashion show will be held at the Cherry Hill Mall on Friday at 6 p.m.

“A lot of the students did four-piece collections, and some did five, so that was even more than we thought, which was very exciting,” said the school’s fashion department program coordinator Lisa Steinberg.

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Twenty-seven students will showcase their pieces on the mall runway, with the show featuring 31 collections and more than 90 garments.

“Early on, I don’t really see anything … I’m the last to see what’s going on,” Steinberg noted of her preparation for the show. “A lot of it just comes together, and it just blows you away … It’s not the same until you see it on the model, and it’s done …

“The fabric, in the end when you see it, it just blows you away.”

Rowan partnered with the mall last year for the free event, and Lisa Wolstromer, the mall’s senior marketing director, highlighted student efforts to program the show.

“We sincerely appreciate the creativity, dedication and hard work exhibited by these aspiring designers,” she said in a statement. “It’s a privilege for us to showcase their exceptional and innovative designs, embodying our collaborative effort.”

Rowan student Taiwo Adekunle’s four-piece collection, Cor-set Stability, is a fusion of African culture and Western design. Adekunle is originally from Nigeria, and she wanted to fuse her country’s fabrics – or African fabrics altogether – into her collection.

Adekunle participated in last year’s fashion show, and while creating a collection is intense, as she describes it, it’s also so much more.

“I always look forward to the growth that designing brings to me, because every design or collection that I make is a trajectory of my journey, and how much growth I have incurred from the last or previous collection,” she explained.

“I always try to incorporate something new that I have learned, and I always look forward to seeing that new skill that I’ve learned shine forth in my designs,” Adekunle added. “I always look forward to that, and how my designs connect to the people that (they) connect to.”

Christine Harkinson/The Sun
When Richie Cole started his fashion collection, it reminded him of old Christian Dior and old Paris, so he called it CoCo Nouveau. Cole is among 27 Rowan students who will showcase their fashions at the mall.

Another Rowan student, Richie Cole, also participated in last year’s show. His four-piece collection, CoCo Nouveau – he describes it as old-time French wealth – originally started as a 1960s idea.

“When I started picking my fabrics and everything, it reminded me and Lisa (Steinberg) of old Christian Dior, like old Paris,” Cole explained. “That’s how we came up with the name. We took the ‘CoCo’ from Coco Chanel and the Rococo period (a type of art and architecture that emerged in the 18th century) – we took ‘Coco’ from that – and then ‘Nouveau’ is ‘new’ in French.”

Cole’s favorite designers are Raf Simons and Rick Owens, but they don’t influence his work.

‘I originally wanted to do menswear, and then last year, I started making women’s clothes and I kind of lost all interest in doing menswear,” he recalled. “I feel like (with) menswear, you’re kind of boxed in a little bit …

“Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try to do something that maybe you wouldn’t want to do.”

Fellow Rowan student Katrina Nguyen’s three-piece collection, Fleur Delacour (flower of lacour in French), drew from her childhood and represents youth and playfulness.

“I was actually originally inspired by my childhood, which came from the old ‘Barbie: Fairytopia’ (series of) movies, where these fairies would live in these balls and houses that are made out of leaves,” she said. “And so I wanted my collection to symbolize youth and this playfulness.

“It represents happiness and joyfulness.”

It is another Rowan student’s third time participating in the show. Ari Sanchez-Torres and her four-piece collection, Finding the True Light, is simple, but a statement piece. Three years ago, her great-grandmother showed her how to use her sewing machine, and that’s when she fell in love with fashion.

“It’s an awesome journey,” she pointed out, “because you start with one idea and then it grows into something bigger, and it’s just beautiful, the whole journey, from sketching it to putting the last touch on it, it’s beautiful.”

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