With two sold-out shows, excitement is building for the CCAD fashion show


It was a banner year for the CCAD fashion program, selling out for this year’s fashion show. The graduating class of eight fashion design students and an MFA candidate all successfully completed a challenging program that saw plenty of pandemic improvisations. They studied at home, they learned through video lessons, they lost family members and yet they made it to the end – the fashion show!

CCAD often says that they are looking for the next change-makers and world movers. That’s true for this tight-knit group that seeks to make fashion more inclusive, whether through size, fit, comfort, or even the relationship to clothing.

It was the first year that everyone participated in the fashion show, and the first year that all the looks were present.

“Everyone has their own look, thoughts and ideas,” says Suzanne Cotton, professor and CCAD chair of fashion design. “It’s the first year without looks [for the Fashion Show] were cut by the jury.

The CCAD Fashion Show is a contest show where each designer develops a collection of at least three looks and presents models wearing the outfits for a live show. This year, the show sold out in record time, prompting a second live show, which also sold out.

“I couldn’t be more excited to have the show back in person this year,” said Nicole Pongonis, crew chief for Columbus Fashion Week and who attends the show. “The talent that emerges from CCAD is always exceptional and seeing the show live is a unique and exhilarating experience.

This year the show will take place at 400 West Rich in Franklinton.

“Franklinton was the perfect partner for our 2022 fashion show,” says Kristina Rawson, donor relations manager. “Franklinton’s vibrant arts community is thriving [in part] thanks to CCAD students, graduates and professors. Our alumni own businesses, create art in studios, exhibit art in galleries, and contribute to public art in Franklinton. The move to 400 West Rich allows CCAD to celebrate our presence in Franklinton and collaborate creatively with the community.

Community is another theme that surfaced in a few of the collections.

Nat Della Selva focused her collection on practical, durable fabrics and silhouettes that reminded her of neighbors in her hometown of Saint Paul, Minnesota. She talked about creating wearable pieces; pieces that could change cut depending on who wore them in case one wanted to share their clothes with a neighbor or friend, or if their body size changed. Clothes are made to allow everyone to comfortably live the type of life they lead.

Nat Della Selva, top center row, with her collection.

“I want the clothes to actually work for the wearer,” she says. “Use and usefulness are really important to me. All of my clothes are meant to be clothes that anyone can wear, and you feel comfortable with. You are able to move, play and ride a bike. They are meant to get dirty, fix and last.

“It’s not about the clothes, it’s about the memories you create when you wear those clothes.”

-Nat Della Selva, Graduate, CCAD Fashion Design

Calix Jace’s collection has the fun look of Japanese streetwear with lots of detail. His collection also has underlying elements of comfort.

“It’s a gothic style that works with 80s silhouettes on traditional Japanese silhouettes like kimono and samurai armor and mixes that with modern punk aesthetics and exaggerated silhouettes,” he says.

As a trans man, Jace struggles to find an alternative fashion that actually matches the way the body changes during a transition.

“A lot of us are short,” he says, referring to body size. “It’s hard to find alternative clothing that actually fits us and makes us feel comfortable.”

He wants to see more clothes on the market that work for someone who is transitioning, especially trans male bodies.

“Buying new clothes is expensive,” he says. “I want to create alternative clothing that works through our transition so we can keep it.”

He wants to further push the acceptance of body positivity in the industry and have clothing created with a focus on how someone’s body looks and what that person wants to wear; instead of clothes being directed towards a person because of their gender.

“I firmly believe that clothes [style] is for whoever wants to wear it,” he says. Jonathan Van Ness champions this attitude towards clothing, and local company Olly Awake focuses on gender equality clothing, but Jace says there’s still a lot to do. He wants to keep pushing this concept – changing the design of clothes based on body shape, not gender – so clothes can look good on anyone.

Calix Jace, in blue, with her collection.

Marilyn Brown felt that the program was a lot of work, but it was definitely worth it. She began researching trends in February 2021 for her collection and found that “witch aesthetics” kept surfacing. Her collection brings together this aesthetic and the looks of Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac. It is a tribute to his mother who died in 2020 and who loved Stevie Nicks. Brown’s collection shows off a witchy vibe without the costume feel.

“The pieces are something to wear in public on a random day,” she says.

She enjoys creating everyday looks and would like to pursue a career in designing prints for children’s clothing. She would like to develop the size inclusivity that would make all bodies comfortable in clothing.

Marilyn Brown, top center row, with her collection.

Austin Tootle’s collection focuses on vintage Hollywood, dramatic looks and tragic romance.

“The collection chronicles the objectification of women and their eventual empowerment, beginning in the 1960s,” he says. “It’s the women who are making a name for themselves, rather than being in the background.”

After graduating from high school, Tootle spent time modeling and acting, which gave her a behind-the-scenes look into the fashion industry.

“I had noticed everything that I thought was wrong [in the industry]and I thought if I had a brand, I would change those things,” he says.

When creating his collection, he took lingerie and performance wear and created a storyline for it. “I wanted to create a ‘show’ in fashion,” he says.

Austin Tootle, top center, with part of his collection.

Tootle has designed the majority of its pieces for specific cases such as a stage performance. But some, like lingerie pieces, push the notion of what’s okay to wear during the day to pieces that can be worn anytime. One of the inspirations for her collection was Rihanna’s current pregnancy looks.

Her collection has definitely evolved after the group returned to the classroom full-time this fall.

“After being home and learning online, when we came back [to campus] we had to make a collection,” he says. “We were very shy [in our designs] in the beginning… what I originally started with [Serene Queen look] was not what it turned out to be. I’m so glad it turned out like this because I think it’s better than what I originally started with.

He sees himself doing something in the entertainment industry and will be working with Fear Columbus, a year-round haunted house in Columbus, as creative director heading up costumes and makeup.

“I really enjoyed the creative freedom the program allowed,” says Tootle of his experience at CCAD.

The CCAD Fashion Show is on May 12, 2022 and is currently sold out. You can register on the waiting list.

To learn more about the designers of this year’s CCAD fashion show, visit www.ccad.edu.

Columbus Underground is the media sponsor of the 2022 CCAD Fashion Show. All photos provided by CCAD.


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