Andover Runway

Jeff Bakkensen ’06, hand down the front of his pants, rummaged around frantically before pulling out a red lacy thong. Such tongue-in-cheek (or shall we say, hand-in-pants) comedy as this reference to 2001’s Zoolander set the tone for last term’s West Quad North Fashion Show. Bakkensen led a squadron of tuxedo-clad Phillips Academy males in emceeing the event, organized by Melanie Kress ’05 and Andrea Rowan ’05. With the aid of WQN Cluster Dean Chad Green, Kress and Rowan assembled designers and models and transformed Lower Right into a catwalk pulsing with techno and strobe lights. The two seniors began brainstorming fall term, and supervised as designers drew up plans for outfits that they then assembled themselves. The most memorable piece of the night, “6,” was a dress made entirely out of book pages, designed by Alex Wolf ’06. Model Jeni Lee ’06 rustled down the runway, enveloped in the Wolf’s enormous creation. Said Wolf, “I wanted to make something unique, out of the box… I came up with the idea when I was getting frustrated with homework; “6” is a reference to the grade. I got the paper out of a book, The Way Men Act, by Elinor Lipman, because I liked the idea of using this slutty trash novel to make a cool girl’s dress… then I stained each piece of paper with coffee… and took the fabric tool in a skirt pattern and sewed the paper on.” Kit Halvorsen’s ’08 sophisticated pieces caught the eye not only of the Phillips Academy audience but of stores on Newbury Street and in California, which have expressed interest in selling his newly-formed line, Common Era ( Halvorsen’s all-male designs stood out because they were, with the exception of one outfit, all variations on the same theme. Said Halvorsen, “The idea was to present a cohesive collection, so the theme had to be quite prevalent in all of the looks… this year, the collection was exclusively menswear, but that might change in the future. I didn’t feel I knew enough about women’s clothing, so I stuck to designing for the guys.” Each of his models sported a white t-shirt with a colorful patterned triangular patch on the lapel, Bermuda-length shorts in the same fabric as the patch, and earthy sandals. Halvorsen continued, “The collection’s inspiration was the fusion of a classic east-coast prep look with the current trends in the fashion world. Many of the big names in fashion, like Helmut Lang, Dolce and Gabbana, Dries Van Noten, Christopher Bailey for Burberry, and Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton and his namesake line, Michael Kors, and others…just to name a few that incorporated a preppy theme in their menswear collections.” Kress also created some beautiful designs, such as an elegant long pink skirt with an interesting high-rise waist, designed specifically with model Ali Holliday ’06 in mind. Some designers, like Andrea Coravos ’06, began creating early. “I’d never participated in a fashion show before, but over the summer, my younger sister, Cassie ’08 and I, played around with a few ideas and ended up making a few outfits for fun. When we heard about the fashion show, we decided to enter them.” Once designs had been drafted, the model search began. “Finding someone willing to model was not hard; there were so many people who really wanted to participate. When we found the models, we then needed to fit the clothing to them and make sure that everyone was happy with what they were wearing,” explained designer Rosie duPont ’06. The hard part came when the rookie models stepped onto the runway. Coravos, who also modeled for the event, said “We had to learn how to do stage make up, walk down the run way, pose – all the stuff you take for granted when you see models on TV. No one really knew how to pose; we were all so nervous about tripping.” Despite their anxiety, both the designers and models put on an excellent show with an enormous turnout. With seats for only 200, disappointed students were turned away from the door as lower right quickly filled up. WQN raised a total of $800, most of which is going towards the Phillips Academy’s Tsunami Relief Fund. However, Kress and Rowan have both expressed interest in contributing a fraction of the money to a program known as “Dress For Success”, in which clothing is provided to women on welfare who are interviewing for jobs, or need certain attire for their occupation. “Overall,” said Rowan, “Melanie and I are really happy with how it turned out – it was better than we could’ve hoped.”