Rip the Runway 2015

Rip the Runway fashion show represents variety of cultures through clothing

A student-run fashion show displayed garments based on various traditional cultures with a modern twist.

On Friday, the Rip the Runway fashion show transported students from central New York to a cultural oasis. 

As the first model sliced through the red fog and stomped onto the catwalk, the audience fell silent. Bright colors poured out onto the runway as rhythmic drums pumped through the Goldstein Auditorium.

Six local brands featured their collections, each giving different approaches to Haitian and African dress. The young designers maintained tradition, but with an updated twist for the millennial crowd. Colorful prints cascaded from dashikis to voluminous scarves to full ball-gowns on more than 30 models. 

The Haitian American Student Association (HASA) and the African Student Union have continuously partnered together and refined the cultural fashion show since it was created three years ago. This year’s show conveyed a more carefree attitude, HASA President Markova Casseus said. “We tried to make it more interactive,” Casseus said.

The emcees, seniors Tatiana Cadet and Kavell Brown, kept the show lively. They held impromptu dance-offs and a best-dressed competition to keep the roughly 100 audience members engaged while waiting for the next collection.

For Michael Reinit, a fashion designer for Lief Kultuur and former model in New York and Los Angeles, said participating in student fashion shows are a change of pace.  

“It’s fun. We do a lot of these smaller fashion shows and they’re more lighthearted,” Reinit said. “The models are more into it [and] everyone’s excited.”

The models didn’t withhold their personalities; some gestured to the crowd while others danced. “We try to make it not just about the clothes, but how the models look in the clothes,” Casseus said.

Merging Africa and Syracuse to create his brand Africuse, designer and Syracuse University junior Shaquille Kessi said he hoped to show the beauty of his home, Tanzania, to the Syracuse community through his collection.

Although local reception of Africuse was slow in the beginning, student-led support through Instagram posts helped others learn of his brand, Kessi said.

Fashion lover and attendee Briana Bell said she saw the fashion show as an opportunity for cultural unity on campus.  

“It’s important to be aware of all different kinds of cultures. I’m Jamaican but we’re [also] black so we need to support each other,” said Bell, a Syracuse University junior. “I feel like it’s something that’s important on this campus, especially with us being the minority."

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