by Megan Leigh Barnard

The Future of Fashion

Like it or not, fashion is a part of your life. Every species communicates to the world around it through its outward appearance. Many will meticulously groom themselves for optimal presentation. Humans wear clothes. Sure, clothes serve a more practical function, but despite selecting your attire based on function alone you’re still communicating. Sometimes the easiest message to convey is that you don’t care.

Fashion, therefore, is important.

That doesn’t mean it has to be expensive, or impractical. It also doesn’t mean effete, coastal elitist should have the last say on fashion. Columbus has long been an important cog in the fashion wheel because we are not cut from that same, sometimes smug cloth.

It’s also because the Columbus College of Art and Design is one of the most respected institutions for commercial arts in the country, and their fashion program is among the best in the world. CCAD separates itself from other design schools by focusing solely on design, eschewing business and marketing. This maintains artistic integrity throughout the program.

Seniors in the Fashion Design program spend a year working on their collections leading up to the annual fashion show in May. In March, a select jury of industry professionals reviews every outfit, to determine what will be exhibited.

The students pour themselves into their work. Lindsay Casimir, for example, started off in the marketing side of the fashion industry, but moved back to Columbus to work in cancer research at The James. After taking a continuing education class, she decided to go back to school and focus on design. Her activewear collection, “The Sweat Life” combines vibrant ’80s color schemes with modern technology to unite form and function.

I want my work to be relatable to all types of people,” she said. “My activewear collection is meant to inspire women to be active while still feeling fashionable.”

The practical sensibilities come from growing up in a large, loving family with deep community roots. The local art scene, as well as her talented classmates inspire the creative side of her, but growing up in Columbus also drives her to create pieces that connect with everyday people.

Luyao Zhang absorbed knitting as child, as it was a family tradition back home in Zhengzhou City, China. During elementary school, she would save up her money to buy fashion magazines and becoming a designer quickly became her dream. Luyao finished high school in Pittsburgh and came to CCAD to develop her skills. She wants to show the fashion world that knitted pieces can be dynamic and artistic. Her approach is fascinating. She doesn’t have a clear plan in mind for each piece. Instead, she lets the work come to life as she assembles it.

Natalia Monserrate grew up in Ponce, Puerto Rico where she developed an appreciation for hard work. Fashion was always an interest but it was in high school when she got a chance to design costumes for a large theatrical production where her passion for design was ignited. It’s not surprising that her wildest dream is to design apparel for a film. Her approach to fashion involves the details.

What I do best and what I have noticed people respond to the best is the different elements such as accessories that form a part of my designs. For example, my collection for the CCAD fashion show featured many elements that resembled armor that I created by linking together copper scales and chains. Additionally, I often like to incorporate headpieces made of all sorts of materials into my designs as well,” she said.

While she draws inspiration from all over the industry, Natalia’s family remains her greatest inspiration.

These are just a few of the stories behind the CCAD Fashion show, where artists get to express themselves through a medium that ultimately helps you express yourself.

Also featured in 2018:

Kathryn Geraci

Hometown: Twinsburg, Ohio

Collection in three words: Nature. Wanderlust. Reminiscent.

Each garment in Geraci’s memory-laced collection, titled Posy, represents a place she has visited and the journals she created during her travels. She handmade each print with watercolors, and the silhouettes harken to the natural environment of the different cities. Amsterdam, for example, is represented by a bicycle-friendly look printed with illustrated boughs of willow trees that line the city’s canals. Northern Sicily is evoked in a look inspired by photos of lemon pressing there —where her family is from—a fitting tribute, as her grandmother taught her to sew as a child.

Erica Rodney

Hometown: St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

Collection in 3 words: Shift. Hidden. Darkness.

Rodney is no stranger to the CCAD Fashion Show. The St. Croix native came to CCAD in 2002 to study Fashion Design. Before she completed her bachelor’s degree, however, she left to join the U.S. Marines Corps. After serving in the military, Rodney returned to CCAD and earned her BFA in 2016, the same year she debuted a collection of her work in the CCAD Fashion Show. Now, as an MFA candidate, her collection features garments made from artificial black hair used to create hair designs she calls Kanekalon.

Chelsea Funk

Hometown: Columbus

Collection in three words: Fun. Funky. Fabulous.

Funk’s collection of garments designed for differently-abled children was motivated by her passion to make fashion more inclusive. Titled Teddy Bear Picnic, the collection features garments that make fashion fun as well as functional for the needs of children living with conditions such as cerebral palsy and Down syndrome. This mission holds a personal importance to Funk, as she was born with amniotic band syndrome and has only one arm. She wants to prove to these children—and the industry—that everyone can, and should, enjoy picking out what they’ll wear today. Plus: There’s neon pink fur.

The 2018 CCAD Fashion Show will take place 5.11 @ the Greater Columbus Convention Center. For more info and to purchase tickets, visit