KSU School of Fashion students Harry Becker, Kewei Yu, India Seymone, David Patrick Irvin and Gabrielle Tipton

Watching the Kent State School of Fashion annual fashion show suggests the same vibe as parents watching their baby go off to college. The overwhelming vibe is “when did this happen?” – kids started out drawing and playing with fabric and color and suddenly we have a completely new vision for fashion in the 2020s and beyond. There are several things going on here, all of them inspiring and all of them amazing. If you haven’t attended, pretty sure you haven’t seen anything like this.
First, the annual fashion show is the crowing achievement of KSU’s Fashion Week, a series of workshops, lectures and open houses open to the general public. Fashion Week aims to showcase the work of students who are experimenting with new ideas to clothe us stylishly in innovative and sustainable ways.

Anne Ames, Camille Tighe, Dick Ames, Mark Mykleby and Brian Tighe

“The Annual Fashion Show is a great opportunity for our community to celebrate and witness first-hand the achievements of our fashion design and merchandising students,” School of Fashion director Dr. Mourad Krifa said in a press release. “Their extraordinary talent and creativity, along with the dedication of the faculty who nurture them, is what makes us one of the top fashion schools in the world.”
Then there is the abounding professionalism seen in every aspect of this event. The cocktail reception with its signature libations (The Runway: vodka, prosecco, and cranberry) and varied outstanding hors d’oeuvres was served by a team of extremely skilled and capable Kent State students.
The evening quickly morphed into the showcase event held in the

Tom and Mirta Prior with Sarah Rogers and Todd Diacon, president of KSU

ballroom of the Student Center. There were 42 designers displaying 171 fashions. These collections and single-submission garments were chosen by a panel of industry critics and jurors for inclusion in the show. Evening wear, day wear, market ready and universal design – all were represented in the show. And more, among the designers, dressers, models, ushers and support staff (lights, audio, and cameras) this show took over 235 people to make it come to life, and all produced by seniors Daniella Byrnes and Mackenzie Karsten.
Over the course of the week the Fashion School inducted British designer Dame Zandra Rhodes into their Hall of Fame. An icon for more than 50 years, the British fashion and textile creator, dubbed “the princess of punk,” has designed garments for Diana, Princess of Wales,

Valoree Vargo, Ann Walters, Diane Petrella and Leigh Greenfelder

Diana Ross, and Cher. “I am thrilled and honored to have been invited by Kent State’s School of Fashion to be their 2024 Hall of Fame Inductee,” she said. At the fashion show she announced she would be donating several of her “treasured dresses” to the Kent State museum.
The Annual Fashion Show, held every April, is a key part of the senior year experience in which fashion students organize to showcase and celebrate their achievements. The result is not only a riot of bold color and ground-breaking design, but also an uplifting event filled with the infectious joy of sheer creativity and the imagined come to life.
A video of the 2024 Annual Fashion Show presented by the Kent State School of Fashion is available on YouTube. STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY RITA KUEBER