Poughkeepsie Fashion: Marist College’s Silver Needle Fashion Show and Awards Brings Style to Dutchess County

HV goes behind the scenes on the making of Poughkeepsie’s hottest fashion pageant

In most competitions, participants typically “go for the gold.” But for Marist College’s fashion department, it’s all about silver. The annual Silver Needle Fashion Show and Awards — produced entirely by Marist students and faculty — showcases bold collections from senior designers, highlights merchandising capstone projects, and provides a sneak-peek into the portfolios of budding costumiers. And this time around, the argent hue is more meaningful than ever: This year marks the production’s 25th anniversary.

“We’re really celebrating the growth and innovation of the department, and the talent of our students,” says show co-director Chris Traina, a senior fashion merchandising student. “Our senior designers are really impeccable; they show great promise with their collections.”

Though each student in the fashion department — 423, to be exact — has an opportunity to present his or her work, only a handful are deemed “runway ready.” “It’s a very selective process,” Traina admits. “Everyone wants to be a part of it. But we have to pick the best for each show.” (Traina and his co-director, Kim Warren, themselves were hand-selected.)

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As if producing the school’s double-pageant — in which designers compete for scholarships and are judged by industry professionals — wasn’t daunting enough, the students are responsible for coordinating all aspects of sponsorship and marketing. “It’s very pricey to put up an event like this,” he says, “so we’re thinking of every possible way to get our show out there.”

Traina’s team hoped to obtain recognition from the queen of good causes herself: Ellen DeGeneres. To appeal to the comedienne, they produced a video that recreated her popular talk show (with the college’s dance ensemble president boogieing down as the dance-crazy hostess). The featured “guest” was Danielle DeZao, a Marist fashion merchandising major whose extracurricular efforts to help raise awareness about dating abuse — of which she was a victim — echoes DeGeneres’ latest anti-bullying campaign.

DeZao established a nationally recognized organization on campus, called H♥rt1, which aims to “heal a heart, remove the one.” (“One” refers to the one out of every three young adults who experience a physically or verbally abusive relationship.) DeZao has since appeared on Fox News, ABC’s “What Would You Do?” program, and has even attended conferences at the White House alongside Liz Claiborne, Inc. At press time, DeGeneres hadn’t yet responded to the students’ plea, but the video projects and DeZao’s H♥rt1 campaign will be acknowledged in special segments throughout the fashion show.

Other segments include the sophomore-designed fair-trade collection. “All of the fabrics are from certified fair-trade companies overseas,” Traina reports. “We hope to promote ethical fashion production as well as conscientious consumer spending. Sustainability is extremely important, and the sophomores are really excited about it.”

And for the finale? “I can’t give away too much,” he teases, “but at the end of the show, there will be 25 models on the runway, all draped and connected somehow in silver fabric.”

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Marist College Silver Needle Fashion Show & Awards
May 5 at 2 & 7 p.m. $15-$100
Mid-Hudson Civic Center. 14 Civic Center Plaza, Poughkeepsie. 845-575-3124 or www.marist.edu/commarts/fashion

For photos and videos of the senior collections and ways to stay up-to-date with Marist’s fashion program, visit www.hvmag.com/MaristFashion

» Silver Needle Fashion Show 2011 review
» Silver Needle Fashion Show 2010 review
» Silver Needle Fashion Show 2009 review
» Silver Needle Fashion Show 2008 review
» Red Dress Project 2009 review
» Visit Marist College
» Visit the Mid-Hudson Civic Center

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