To acquire wisdom, one must observe

BAASA ‘Redefines’ fashion stereotypes in annual SKIN fashion show

The Brandeis Asian American Students Association (BAASA) hosted its annual SKIN fashion show in Levin Ballroom on Feb. 15.

SKIN was the first event in BAASA’s celebration of Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which is in March, but BAASA decided to kick things off early this year with SKIN.

The theme of the 2018 SKIN was “Redefine,” and its goal was to confront stereotypes in the fashion industry and in beauty standards. “It is also a reference to the personal journeys of the models as well—whether it be redefine self-confidence, self-love or one’s self,” said the evening’s hosts.

BAASA SKIN promotes diversity in the fashion industry and showcases Asian American designers. The show was engaging, thanks to both the clothes and the models themselves. The fashions ranged from innovative, contemporary ready-to-wear pieces to striking high-fashion gowns and coats. The models were a diverse group of students whose strong, confident performances on the runway were essential to the show’s success.

The first collection, by Brandeis student Jackie Chapman ’18, featured high waisted skirts paired with graphic T-shirts inspired by the flags of Southeast Asian countries. The inspiration translated well into ready-to-wear tops, and it was great to start the night off with a Brandeis designer.

The second collection, with clothes from designers Phillip Lim and Yohji Yamamoto was both fun and elegant. It transitioned from colorful items in shades of blue and yellows to grey and black garments. The oversized, color-block sweaters were a personal favorite.

The formalwear collection, by Nhan Khan and Yumi Kim, began with a series beautiful floral gowns. The prints themselves were stunning and the long skirts flowed elegantly as the models walked. This collection also transitioned to darker hues with strong black gowns and gold or red accents and, finally, striking red gowns. One red gown had a train like a cape, which the model played on skillfully in her walk.

There was also a collection of work by students from the Rhode Island School of Design, Parsons School of Design, the School of Visual Art and Brandeis. A standout feature of this collection were the long oversized coats that draped beautifully on the models and complemented each of the outfits underneath. This collection also experimented with interesting fabric choice, using sheer and plastic materials. Tamara Garcia ’18, the SKIN coordinator for BAASA, designed two pieces in this collection. She used bright colors and plastics to create clothes that were eye-catching and innovative.

The event also provided opportunities for students to express their personal style. Each of the models and members of BAASA’s e-board walked the runway in their own clothes.

Students in the crowd were encouraged to walk the runway as part of the Audience Best Dressed contest. In attire that was clean and classy, formal or casual, students were clearly enjoying themselves on the runway. The rest of the audience voted for their favorite models; first prize was a $50 Nordstrom gift card and second prize was $25.

Tamara Garcia said planning SKIN was truly “a yearlong experience.” She had to start reaching out to designers very early to secure the clothing. The designers donate the clothing, and it is thanks to their generosity that SKIN can present these fashions.

Garcia described SKIN as an empowering experience, and said she wanted to give this experience to as many students as possible. She enjoyed seeing some of the models and BAASA e-board members come out of their shells on the runway.

“More than anything, it wasn’t the show itself, but it was how much fun the models had that make it most meaningful,” said Garcia.

The night also featured a performance from FUSIAN, Harvard’s Asian-interest a cappella group. Their second of two pieces was particularly strong, with two soloists harmonizing, their voices meshing perfectly with the rest of the group members.

Students could also purchase $1 tickets to vote for their favorite model. The winner won a prize, and all the proceeds went to the Asian Community Development Center, a charity working to preserve affordable housing in the Boston area for Asian Americans. It was founded in 1987 to address a lack of “affordable and reliable” housing in Boston’s Chinatown.

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