FADS’ ‘Biotic Wonders’ runway show displays sustainable clothing designs

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Jace Williams plans to recycle earth-tone clothes in his designs for the Fashion and Design Society’s upcoming show. He is excited to incorporate his newfound skill of working with textiles into designing pieces for the show.

“Being a fashion design major, I’m just getting into a textiles class where we basically discuss natural fibers and natural things in fashion and resources,” Williams said. “So, basically having this all earthy, organic fashion show really helps me to exhibit what I’ve learned.”

FADS’ first in-person runway show since 2019, “Biotic Wonders,” is about using natural elements and organic patterns in fashion design. The fashion designers making the clothes are encouraged to use recycled or sustainably sourced materials in their clothing designs.

The theme for the early-December show centers around climate change and humanity. Senior Jessie Zhai, co-president of FADS and creative director for “Biotic Wonders,” said that the committees working on the show came to the decision for the theme unanimously. When the committees presented their ideas, they were all somewhat the same as what Zhai had in mind.


“What I was thinking was something that’s related to climate change, something that’s related to earth, and just in general the human experience because I feel like it’s a wonderful thing to do … and my teams responded basically the same way,” Zhai said.

The creative director’s inspiration comes from Neri Oxman, an American-Israeli designer and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab. Zhai watched Oxman on season two of Netflix’s “Abstract: The Art of Design.” Her work combines biology, technology and design. The way that Oxman works resonated with Zhai after watching the show.

The specifics and details of “Biotic Wonders” are evolving as all the different teams work to bring all the components together as a cohesive final product. Right now, the set designers are in the process of figuring out how to create a set that works with the theme and complements the clothes without drawing attention away from the designs, fifth-year architecture major Lainey Marra said.


Marra is jumping into her first show with FADS as the director of set design for “Biotic Wonders.” She’s hoping that her team can build a set in the most eco-friendly way possible, using recycled materials or ones that can be returned to whomever they’re borrowed from. Marra said the team’s goal is to create a set without creating waste, as to go along with the show’s theme.

With this being her first time with FADS, Marra has been studying other fashion shows and talking to the rest of her set design team about what does and doesn’t work.

“The only thing that’s kind of like a step into the unknown is (that) I’ve designed a set before for a video production, but I’ve never been to a fashion show. So there’s just a lot of learning,” Marra said. “I think in a way that’s maybe the most exciting part because it’s an opportunity to learn about all of that.”

Director of set design for FADS' Biotic Wonders show, fifth-year architecture student Lainey Marra

Fifth-year architecture student Lainey Marra (pictured) is the director of set design for “Biotic Wonders,” her first show with FADS.
Meghan Hendricks | Asst. Photo Editor

The planning process of the show is still in its early stages. Williams is figuring out which materials he wants to use to make his designs. Last year, it took him about 100 hours to make two pieces. This year, he estimates he’s going to spend 300-400 hours on his four designs.

The location of the fashion show is still to be determined, but fashion designers have sent in their final submissions for decisions to be made. Once the place is chosen, Marra and her set design team can get to work designing and building the set. She and her team are responsible for both large and small aspects of the show, including the sourcing and use of materials, lighting and seating layout, Marra said.

Having an in-person fashion show is a change for Williams, and he finds it both exciting and scary. He’s used to doing shows virtually, because as an SU sophomore, it’s all he’s known. Last year, FADS had more freedom because everything was recorded, which allowed for the ability to reshoot and edit out slip-ups.

FADS co-president and creative director Jessie Zhai

Meghan Hendricks | Asst. Photo Editor Maya Goosmann | Digital Design Director

But generally, everyone in FADS is excited to return to in-person shows, Zhai said. “Biotic Wonders” and the spring show will be Zhai’s last shows with FADS before she graduates in May.

“I wanted to make it good. I wanted to make it memorable, leave some memories for the people who can come afterwards, and they can tell the new members about the show after we graduate,” Zhai said.

DISCLAIMER: Jessie Zhai is a staff photographer for The Daily Orange. She does not influence the editorial content of the Culture section in her capacity as a staff photographer.

Contact Gavi: [email protected] | @gavi_azoff


Katheleen Knopf

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