Student fashion designs set to hit the runway in ‘Opulence’ show


Cindy Tran Sewing Design. Photo courtesy of Andrea Eklund

MJ Rivera, Scene Editor

Student designers in the apparel, textile and merchandising (ATM) program will be showcasing their looks in this year’s fashion show titled “Opulence” on June 3 in the Milo Smith Tower Theater in McConnell Hall.

Andrea Eklund, professor in the ATM major and director of the fashion show, said, “There [are] the students who, starting at the beginning of the quarter, look for models, get their measurements, create all the designs. They’re constructing everything.”

There are two classes in charge of putting on the fashion show: ATM 360, fashion show production, and ATM 482, fashion show designers, according to Eklund.

CWU has had an apparel design program since 1915, and this year is their 27th fashion show.

The title of each year’s fashion show is created by the students on the first day of Eklund’s class, ATM 482. The students create posters for the fashion show and the class votes for the one they all want to represent the show, according to Eklund.

“They are kind of thinking about what [is] interesting and what goes with what’s happening in society, what’s trending…opulence was the one that was chosen with the most votes,” Eklund said.

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  • 2023 Production class. Photo courtesy of Andrea Eklund

  • 2023 Student Designer class. Photo courtesy of Andrea Eklund

  • Nicole White draping design. Photo courtesy of Andrea Eklund

  • Hunter McDonald working on patterns for designs. Photo courtesy of Andrea Eklund

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Opulence means wealth or abundance, according to Merriam Webster.

“[It’s] something extra,” Eklund said. “Something that you don’t have every day, something out of the ordinary, something that is creative and visually interesting.”

Every year, the fashion show is different than the last because there are always new designers. This year, there are 12 designers presenting their work in the show, 11 of which are graduating this year, according to Eklund.

“We have ‘opulence’ as the fashion show theme, but then we have 12 separate mini collections within the show,” Eklund said. “So, it’s like 12 mini shows overall, because they all have different themes, a different feel, a different target market. That’s the cool thing about it.”

According to Ecklund, other universities require students to be senior standing to be in the show. Unlike other universities, students of any class standing can participate in the fashion show as long as they have completed the prerequisites. Each student designer has created 3-5 designs for the show, according to Eklund.

“I’m really working on it all year long, and then the students come into play when spring quarter starts,” Eklund said.

Eklund said she looks forward to seeing her students celebrate their hard work in the fashion show.

“Them having that moment of seeing all their stuff on the runway…is really amazing,” Eklund said. “Watching them have that fruition come to light on the runway, they’ve worked so hard. It’s one of the hardest things they’ll ever do. Having it all come together and then getting that recognition from the audience…makes all the work [worth it].”

The fashion show will be an immersive experience for audience members as they learn about each set of designs, according to Eklund.

“It’s not just a fashion show, you learn about the students,” Eklund said. “There’s…a mini student-designer interview before their collection starts so you really learn about the inspiration and their process and kind of what they got out of it.”

Eklund said the CWU theater department has worked alongside the student designers and producers to put on the annual fashion show for the last 15 years as well. 

“We work with the theater department on the lighting and creating really an immersive experience that is really dynamic,” Eklund said. “It’s really showcasing so many different departments and students’ work and their knowledge that they’ve learned here on campus in the event, which I think is pretty amazing.”

Sophomore ATM major Tatum Mohagen is the student design coordinator in the production class for this year’s fashion show. Mohagen’s job is to be the bridge between the student designers and producers of the show, apart from the staging committee and promotion team in the production class.

“I hope that people that come can see how amazing and cool our program is and enjoy the show…I’m really excited,” Mohagen said.

Mohagen said she was inspired to be a part of this year’s show after she had gone to see the 2022 fashion show with her mom.

“This year is my first year helping behind the scenes and putting it on, so it’s cool to have gone to it last year and to have seen it and know what it’s about, and then this year see the behind the scenes of how it gets put together,” Mohagen said.

Mohagen said she feels that the ATM program gives students valuable hands-on experience.

“Whatever you’re learning in class, there’s always a project or a way that you get to apply it in a very realistic way,” Mohagen said. “Our program really does a great job setting you up to succeed in that way.”

The student designs were photographed and judged on May 25, according to Mohagen.

“I actually had the role of choosing four judges, and so I reached out to a whole bunch of people,” Mohagen said.

The four judges Mohagen recruited were Marsha, the CEO of fashion brand Stupid Stitch, CWU ATM alum Sean Helligso, owner of Claim Clothing in downtown Ellensburg Megan West and retired CWU theater arts professor Scott Robinson.

There will be an award ceremony at the end of the fashion show on June 3.