Of all of Brandeis’ 260 student-run clubs and organizations, Fashion Design Club is certainly a hidden gem on campus.
The goal of Fashion Design Club lies within the club’s name: to design fashion. From the beginning stages of tracing and cutting out patterns, to sewing the pieces together and finally to the fun part, embellishing, Fashion Design Club does it all. The club enables members to pick up or improve basic sewing skills and garment construction, both of which are not very present on Brandeis’ campus. Besides Costume Design, taught in the Department of Theater Arts, and a couple of fashion history courses, Fashion Design Club is the only creative space on campus for students to discuss current trends and get hands-on practice with clothing design.
For that reason, Tyffany English ’19, president of Fashion Design Club, set herself a goal of reinventing the club when she took over as president at the start of the current semester. English joined Fashion Design Club in her first year of college, but the club died down in her sophomore and junior years. The club’s small and infrequent presence on campus also motivated English to revive the club and show its commitment to helping others, beginners and experienced, as well as engage with the Brandeis community in creative, collaborative ways.
Fashion Design Club meets every week for two full hours, yet with big, time-consuming projects this semester, English believes the club could even benefit from more meeting time. The Fashion Design Club E-Board quickly figured out that teaching people how to create garments from scratch and learning about the fabrics takes a lot more time than expected. English pointed to, as an example, a diagram depicting how to make a circle skirt, which featured pi symbols and fractions that the ordinary eye might not understand upon first glance.
So far this semester, the club has completed its biggest project by designing skirts and accessories for A Night for Africa, which is an annual cultural show hosted by Brandeis African Students Organization (BASO). Members of Brandeis dance troupe Toxic sported high-low skirts that had a red, blue, orange and yellow geometric pattern on them. What made the skirts unique was the missing front panels. Instead of continuing the front of the skirt with the normal patterned fabric, club members removed the front panel and attached a layer of black fringe instead. The texture and movement of the fringe added a playful and sophisticated touch to the outfits.
This collaboration has been Fashion Design Club’s most extensive project this semester, and a very rewarding one at that. Club treasurer Andrea Murillo ’20 outlined the planning and designing process of the skirts: after Toxic president Sabrina Howard ’19 reached out to Murillo about working together, the two met up and searched the Internet for inspiration. They sifted through photos of African dance costumes and finally found a photo of a skirt that had the front fringe panel detail, and then Fashion Design Club replicated it.
Murillo’s favorite part of Fashion Design Club this semester was the last week of putting together Toxic’s skirts for A Night for Africa. “We actually saw the skirts come together… Sabrina was there and tried hers on, and another member of Toxic came in for her measurements and she tried it on… it was just really cool and the first thing we did as a club. It was amazing,” said Murillo. “We were also able to realize what we could really do in just two weeks,” English added.
Meanwhile, English’s favorite part of the semester was getting the fabrics in October. “We really got to be super creative, and just become really excited about the interesting things we could do with the fabrics. I remember Andrea telling us that she already knew what she wanted to make,” said English. Murillo created a short-sleeved top made of sheer black lace, while English worked on a circle skirt made of rich green velvet. Fashion Design Club also works with various trims and embellishments. Club members hand sew and operate the sewing machine to create garments.
An off-campus event that all three E-Board members thoroughly enjoyed was Her Campus’ College Fashion Week. Her Campus hosted a night filled with DIY stations, brand tables, photo-ops, snacks and a runway show. English liked the experiential aspect of the event, while Murillo liked the bonding part.
On campus, Fashion Design Club tabled on Kindness Day in the Shapiro Campus Center (SCC) Atrium with origami fashion. The club welcomed students and community members to join them in folding and creasing origami paper into three-dimensional dresses, shoes, shirts and more.
As for the club’s weekly meetings, one that stood out was when a Hiatt Career Center student advisor informed members on how to best present themselves and their resumes to professionals in the fashion industry. During a different meeting, Vice President Qiang Hu ’21 gave a presentation and opened a discussion about New York Fashion Week trends. The club also created tote bags from scratch and practiced fashion sketching at the beginning of the semester.
This semester has been an action-packed, hands-on semester for Fashion Design Club, and the club’s E-Board cannot wait to launch into the spring semester with plans of fashion shows at other colleges, collaborations with more clubs and potentially Brandeis professors as guest speakers. Also in the pipeline for the spring semester is the club’s own fashion show. Fashion Design Club is eager to exhibit student-made clothing and accessories to the Brandeis community in the format of a real runway show.
As the semester comes to a close, Fashion Design Club’s last hurrah will take place at the Fall Fusion of the Arts event this Saturday, Dec. 8 from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. in the Shapiro Campus Center (SCC) Multipurpose Room. Fashion Design Club will showcase student-made garments alongside other work from clubs such as Laurel Moon, Creative Writing Club, Pottery Club, Photography Club and Drawing Club.