Never Grow Up: Bodies of Art Channels Childlike Wonder for 11th Annual Fashion Show
Each spring, the members of KCAD’s student fashion alliance Bodies of Art (BOA) push themselves to make the organization’s annual fashion show bigger and better than the year before. This year though, taking a big step forward meant looking back at childhood in all of its wonderful, playful curiosity.
Held on March 27 at the Grand Rapids Public Museum, BOA’s 11th annual fashion event, “Never Grow Up,” featured over 50 original student-designed fashions inspired by childhood games, toys, emotions, and experiences. The students started designing and constructing their garments way back in November of 2014, and while they weren’t restricted in terms of colors or materials they could use, BOA President and senior Fashion Studies student Jennie Reid said this year’s theme presented plenty of challenges all on its own.
(above and below) The Grand Rapids Public Museum decked out for Bodies of Art's 2015 Fashion Show, "Never Grow Up"
“If you look at current fashion trends, everything is very revealing; there’s lots of midriffs and short hems. But when we decided on our theme, it was important to us from the start that we give the show a very family-friendly atmosphere, so we created our designs with that in mind every step of the way.”
The Public Museum proved to be the perfect venue, enabling BOA to create an experience that fully immersed attendees in the spirit of the show’s theme. Children and their families were encouraged to explore the museum’s exhibits, take a ride on its iconic carousel, and take part in face painting, caricature drawing, and other creative activities. Kids even had the opportunity before the show to color on garments that were then worn on the runway.
(above) The models strut their stuff decked out in KCAD student-designed fashions; (below) Bodies of Art President and Fashion Studies student Jennie Reid welcomes the crowd
The venue was perfect,” said Reid. “It allowed the children to explore, play, and learn before seeing their first fashion show and experiencing something completely different.”
BOA also believes in giving the local community more than just a night of great entertainment. Each year, the student group partners with a local non-profit organization in an effort to help raise funds for their cause. This year’s clear choice was Boys and Girls Club of Grand Rapids, and while BOA has pledged to donate a portion of the proceeds from the fashion show, their biggest contribution came in the form of time and energy.
Models sporting more KCAD student-designed garments
In the months leading up to “Never Grow Up,” BOA members were regular volunteers at Boys and Girls Club events. Students helped out at benefit dinners, manned stations at the second annual Kids Adventure Challenge scavenger hunt at John Ball Zoo, and dropped by the Boys and Girls Club’s Steil Club to teach kids how to design and construct their own garments, some of which even made it into the fashion show.
A model showcases another KCAD student-designed garment
“The Boys and Girls Club was really excited when we reached out to them,” said Reid. “We really wanted to help bridge that gap between a small student organization and the larger community, and I think we definitely accomplished that this year.”
For Reid, who will graduate from KCAD in May, “Never Grow Up” is somewhat of a swan song. She’s been involved with Bodies of Art and the annual fashion show for all four of her years in the Fashion Studies program, serving her first two as a stage manager and her last two as the club’s president.
Reid (second from right) poses with three of the models who helped bring the students' fashion designs to life
“It’s a bittersweet feeling to be leaving, but I’m so excited to watch it grow and see what next year’s group brings to the table,” she said. “I’m in the process of helping to set up next year’s leadership group and I’m excited about the people we have running for office.“
A group of models showing off their student-designed garments
And when it comes the impact BOA has created both in and outside of its annual fashion show, she’s adamant that it takes a team effort.
“I am so proud of all the ladies and gentleman that have put their time and energy into making these events special,” she said. “Working with them has been one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences of my life.”
WANT TO SEE MORE? CHECK OUT THE COMPLETE GALLERY OF IMAGES FROM “NEVER GROW UP” HERE.