Biomedical and electrical engineering students were working a runway at the UW-Madison on Saturday afternoon.
“It’s a huge change from what we’re used to in the classroom, studying and books and seeing all guys,” said Catherine Finedore, a junior biomedical engineering student and model in “Threads,” an annual event that showcases work from the Textile and Fashion Design Program in the UW-Madison's School of Human Ecology.
“It’s a great chance,” said Stephanie Benicek, a Threads model and senior electrical engineering student, “to get all dolled up.”
“Threads” bills itself as an event that encourages involvement from students spanning a plethora of academic disciplines, from sciences to music and design. This year, the theme was “Pulse.”
“Pulse is this thing that’s individual to everybody, but it’s this driving force within us,” said Cory Allen Linsmeyer, assistant lead on the creative direction and leadership steam for the show. “It’s that moment of inspiration. It’s that thing that drives you.”
Linsmeyer, a third year MFA candidate who will graduate in just a few weeks, was also one of the designers whose work was showcased in “Pulse.” His collection is called “Horse Power.”
“The horse is really a metaphor for each person’s individual strength and their individuality,” he said.
The collection featured outfits like a white crew neck sweater (made from “Wisconsin-raised alpaca” wool) with saddle sleeves, center back mohair seaming and contrast ribbing at the collar, cuffs and hem, paired with flat front slim wool trousers with slant pockets.
In a unique, theatrical twist, “Horse Power” was not accompanied by recorded music tracks for models to strut to, but a live beat box performance from UW-Madison senior Will Diepholz.
Linsmeyer said he saw Diepholz perform with a campus a capella group earlier in the year and decided he “had to” have him in his show.
“The music he can make … just one man doing something that seems impossible and incredible and bigger than you imagine” fit in perfectly with the theme of “Horse Power,” he said.
“I thought, ‘Oh boy, here we go, this is something pretty new for me’,” Diepholz said. “I’ve never been exposed to the fashion scene like this – I mean, besides watching ‘Project Runway’ with my mom.”
Diepholz thought his performance, paired with a parade of nine looks from Linsmeyer, went very well.
“It was great – the crowd was very responsive, they were cheering, clapping along to the beats I was doing,” Diepholz said. “It was just a blast.”
Watch Diepholz perform on the “Threads” runway:
Other student designers, 33 in all, presented work inspired by things as unique and unexpected as liver cancer cells.
“As a designer, I habitually draw inspiration from the organic world,” designer Erin Aubrey wrote for the “Threads” program. “It was an interesting challenge to translate medical imagery into textile and apparel design.”
Others were inspired by things like “the vastness of the Wisconsin prairie” and the interaction between straight lines and harsh angles with the natural curves of the body.
“I believe that true fashion is not just clothing, but an extension of the body,” designer Em Kinville wrote for the program.
As models and designers mingled in the lobby outside the runway space following the show, the post-performance buzz was palpable. They relished audience accolades, but were also gearing up for two more shows Saturday afternoon and evening - shows full of beatboxing, pulsing lights and adrenaline-fueled quick changes for the models, including engineer-models Finedore and Benicek.
“It’s hectic ,” Finesdore said.
“It’s insane,” Benichek ageed. “But as long as it looks phenomenal out there, it doesn’t matter.”