On Saturday, March 19 the Brandeis Asian American Student Association (BAASA) put on their annual SKIN fashion show in Sherman Function Hall. The purpose of SKIN is to showcase the success of Asian Americans in the fashion industry, and the show features a diverse group of models from a variety of backgrounds. This year featured collections by designers Jenny Baquing, Yang Qu, Frank Huynh, Crystal Jiang, Rima Tahini, as well as fashion by major retailers Forever 21 and Uniqlo.
The show itself was hosted by SKIN 2016 Coordinator Julie Kim ’18 and Vice President of BAASA Tony Tran ’17. According to Kim, the fashion industry does not always represent all people equally despite a growing number of Asian and African American models.
“They always include people of color, but I think this is really cool where the entire cast is just people of color,” she said. “It’s a thing you don’t really get to see.”
The first line was called “Moving Castle” and featured a collection of vintage dresses by designer Jenny Baquing. The dresses themselves were bright, filled with pastel shades and frilly sleeves and collars. While some of the models appeared nervous walking down the runway, other walked with confidence and posed for the crowd and camera.
Model Jay Kim ’14, who had no previous modelling experience, said he was very nervous, but excited as he walked the runway. He said there is usually a professional modeller who comes to train the models on how to walk and pose, but they did not have one this year. He claimed that there were not many options for the male models as well.
“I think the girls had a lot more unique clothes. Guys had Uniqlo and Forever 21, but it was all student run. Students picked it out. There weren’t any modeling professionals to pick out clothes for us, but despite that I think they really picked out some nice clothes.”
The outfits worn by the male models from Forever 21 and Uniqlo mostly consisted of casual wear rather than specialty clothing, consisting of items like cardigans and jeans. The outfits were usually well-constructed and the models were expressive, giving off plenty of attitude as they walked.
“APEC Blue” by Yang Qu, inspired by the creator’s Chinese-American heritage, was impressive; the prints were beautiful and the clothes focused on capturing the eye of every audience member.
There was an opportunity for audience nominees as well as regular audience members to walk the runway after Yang Qu’s line in order to win a Polaroid camera.
Frank Huynh’s “Lê Tâm” collection featured womenswear inspired by the board game chess and Japanese street fashion. The clothes consisted of elegant gowns and dresses. The gowns were beautifully constructed and not over the top, emphasizing a balance between form and function.
The last line of the night, “Xoco Couture” was the highlight of the night. The clothing and patterns were spectacular, with a rich mix of colors. The models appeared to be excited to be wearing it and were far less nervous than they were on the first walk. The womenswear was a combination of modern and traditional costume. Rima Tahini ’16, the line’s designer, is a current Brandeis student, and an international student from Sierra Leone. The clothes themselves were made in Sierra Leone with handpicked and unique fabric patterns.
Elyse Jackson, one of the female models, said walking in the fashion show was an educational and fun experience.
“It’s really great to have this group of girls come together from all different backgrounds and just show what beauty can look like from all different backgrounds and cultures,” Jackson said. “I really had fun with Rima’s line, especially the African traditional line. It was really pretty and having a background in Nigeria, it really was like ‘this is part of my background,’ ‘this is who I am,’ and it’s really nice to actually wear it.”
The theme for this year’s SKIN was “Walk With Me,” focused on creating “an opportunity to touch and be touched by people of different backgrounds and perspectives,” according to statement by Julie Kim.
“Girls shouldn’t be afraid to do it,” Jackson said. “Everyone’s beautiful in their own way and this really helps you accentuate what you’ve got going on.”