Passion for Fashion

Fashion has long been in fashion at Stephens College — it presented its first The Collections Fashion Show nearly 75 years ago, in 1944.

Fashion design students work throughout the school year to turn their ideas into designs, and those designs into garments for various categories including creative denim, weekend wear, contemporary sportswear and tailored designs.

Their efforts are judged by a jury of selection made up of industry leaders and business professionals. They determine which pieces will be presented in the show and select student winners in each category. Past jurors have included supermodel Karlie Kloss and Stephens alum Brianne Ratliff ‘03 from Armani Exchange.

Jurors this year hail from Italy, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Kansas City and Seattle. One is from Nike, and Amy Bond, a Stephens alum who competed in the 2017 fall season of Project Runway, will also be on the panel.

Kathy Nguyen models a design by Kathryn McCarthy in the 2017 fashion show

All details and production of the show are handled by Stephens fashion marketing and management students and fashion communications students, who take a special fashion show class in preparation for the event. Assistant Professor of
Fashion Marketing and Management Maggie Holper, who teaches the class, says the students are responsible for everything from the music to décor to lighting to the runway choice. They design and create the posters, postcards, even the videos that run during the show. Their runway vision is brought to life by the college’s facilities staff, and although a lighting company is brought in, students run the light board themselves.

“It’s a collaborative effort from the design department,” Holper says. “It’s a wonderful creative expression and awesome opportunity. They put all their effort into it. It’s a great thing for their portfolio and resume.”

The students eagerly look forward to the show and seeing the results of all their hard work, Holper says. “One of the design students referred to it as their ‘wedding.’ It’s one day they’ve planned so long for. It’s their day; it’s their showcase.”

School of Design Dean Monica McMurry agrees, “It’s a culmination of three to four years of creativity. When they work together, they realize how far they’ve come.”

The class and resulting show also give students a realistic taste of the collaboration that’s required in the fashion industry.

“I think the community among the students is very important. It imitates the real world, which is what we’re trying to do. It also creates good alumni for the college. And the videos we make are available online for potential employers to review,” McMurry says.

Most of the design students go on to design for corporations, although some, like past fashion show winner Qristyl
Frazier, go on to launch their own lines, according to McMurry.

This year’s theme is “Positional Power.” The show takes place on April 14 in Windsor Auditorium at 2, 4:30 and 7 p.m. Sixty models will walk the runway, modeling between 80 and 100 student designs. General admission tickets are available for $15, and VIP tickets are $40. VIP tickets include a light reception, goodie bag and premier seating. Tickets for students and children are $10. Learn more and purchase tickets at

“If you’ve never been before, it’s a great experience. If you have been, it will not be the same show you’ve seen before,” Holper says.

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