This past Friday, the Haute team turned Haverford into Milan Fashion Week. Over 150 students gathered in the VCAM lounge to watch 16 of their peers model the latest and greatest sustainable fashion pieces created by Haute’s network of up-and-coming designers from Philadelphia, New York, and beyond. Supported by the Haverford Innovations Program’s (HIP) Summer Incubator, Haute co-founders Madeline Webster ’23, Kayla Baquiran ’23, and Eleanor Alix ’23 have worked to give emerging designers a platform to introduce customers to unique, authentic, environmentally sustainable clothing.
“After learning how inequitable the industry was, we wanted to build a platform that subverted traditional power dynamics and prioritized the unique needs of fashion designers,” said Baquiran. “We invest in our designers’ careers through immersive digital content and in-person events and value collaboration with fashion lovers and like-minded companies to encourage individual artistic risk while providing collective community stability.”
“With Haute, we want to recenter fashion around values and vision,” said Alix. “All artists of all backgrounds deserve to have their story heard and their vision seen.”
The idea to host a fashion show was born out of meetings with mentor Margaret Kwon and Third Row co-founder Jodi-Ann Scott. After coordinating with designers, curating music, finding student models, and drawing logistical inspiration from BSL’s 2019 fashion show, Haute was ready to showcase the clothing to the larger Haverford community.
At the fashion show, the Haute team officially launched their website and announced their official partnerships with smaller, emerging designers around the country. “Our platform aims to invite everyone into these conversations through curated digital profiles,” said Baquiran.
“Designers are more than their brands — they are people with stories to tell,” said Alix. “By creating designer profiles with interviews, process work, and more, we promote the whole designer, not just their physical products.”
The first collection down the runway featured evening gowns designed and created by Maxine Roeder, a Haute partner and a sophomore at Washington University, in just three days. As a fashion design and biology double major, Roeder’s work ties together her interest in clothing to her love of the natural world. She promotes environmental sustainability through her commitment to convertible fashion, creating pieces that transcend the ever-changing vogue styles.
The next collection featured on the runway was the work of Kasiah Harrison, another Haute partner and the founder of Delirium Dreaming. A junior at Drexel University, Harrison’s punk-inspired brand pushes the boundaries of streetwear. Delirium Dreaming commits to sustainability by making unisex clothing, allowing customers to wear and share looks regardless of gender identity. The brand has been endorsed by celebrities such as Aries, Kid Cudi, Trippie Redd, and Ashnikko. You can follow Delirium Dreaming on Instagram @deliriumdreaming_.
The next set of models wore clothes created from upcycled saris by Namita Penugonda Reddy, a designer-in-residence at the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator. Her brand, Samsara Sari, was also featured in this year’s Philly Fashion Week. In addition to promoting sustainability, her work strives to educate others on Indian textiles and encourage people to learn more about their own family histories.
The next few models wore pieces designed by Madelyn Lane, a senior design student at Drexel University, including a dress that was selected as a student finalist for this year’s Philly Circular Design Competition.
To close out the show, the runway featured work by Jaclyn Leila, a senior design student at Drexel University. Her experience growing up in a musical family inspired the noise and chaos she portrayed in her work through its colors and textures.
Haute partner and designer Jillian Arzoomanian, a recent fashion design graduate of Pratt Institute, produced a video of her latest project, Sheetwear, that was shown during the event as well. Her work experiments with fabrics, colors, trimmings, and prints. She is particularly interested in the intersection between lingerie and fashion. She believes in upcycling as a key way designers can commit to create sustainable clothing. Her work can be found on her portfolio website.
The Haute team is excited to host more events in the future and to connect with even more student designers in the local community. They were thankful to the Summer Incubator program for its support, and they encourage students interested in launching their own projects to apply. Students interested in the 2022 Summer Incubator must apply by Feb. 15, 2022.