By KAITLIN MAYHEW
In her internship at Anne O’Dowd Fashion Agency in London, fashion guru Megan McDonough gained an appreciation for fashion as not only items of clothing but as art and cultural expression.
“While I was in Europe I noticed how fashion there is more experimental, and originality is encouraged and appreciated more so than in the US,” McDonough said.
McDonough, a University of Mary Washington senior, recently created Fashion International, a fashion club on campus where students interested in fashion can convene and share ideas.
On returning to UMW, she found the campus bereft of opportunities for students interested in fashion and it’s history and prominence.
“I just really missed fashion,” McDonough said.
Fashion International currently meets on Monday nights in Monroe Hall. Topics for discussion at future meetings include the history of fashion, how it goes from the cutting table to the runway to the rack, cultural trends and gender studies, and the psychology of the consumer and buyer.
“We want to make it more of an intellectual group,” McDonough said, “Not purely fluff and talking about trends we want to discuss people who actually studied and created them.”
McDonough, along with the co-founder of Fashion International Maliha Adams, are also planning a number related field trips to places such as NYC and Washington D.C. as well as a events.
“I think going to a fashion week, even if its just the one in D.C. is a good idea,” Adams said. “People don’t realize the availability of these events.”
They also plan to coordinate clothing drives for local women’s shelters, organizing a charity fashion show, and hosting speakers.
“One thing that both the adviser and the two of us thought was important was to involve the community,” Adams said.
McDonough and Adams hope that this club provides an outlet that previously didn’t exist at UMW. Both the opportunity to learn about fashion in a cultural and international sense, and gain an appreciation for it as more than just clothing.
“Fashion seems to mean so very little, but it is actually quite important,” Kevin McCluskey, potential faculty adviser to Fashion International and professor in the theatre department, said. “It’s an opportunity to talk about fashion as more than just pretty dresses and project runway.”
One thing the founders of the club want to express to members is the universality of fashion. They believe are so many more designers and interesting meaningful art and design that far exceed the mainstream brands.
“I went to Washington D.C. fashion week and I expected to be unimpressed,” McDonough said. “But there were designers from Mongolia and Kazakhstan and the looks were so unique and foreign to me, I didn’t even know how to dress the models.”
McDonough believes that the US as a whole is more concerned with conformity than innovation when it comes to getting dressed. And, that brand-names play a huge role in buyer psychology.
Adams commented on the difference in quality between high-end clothing and mass-produced items from factories.
But fashion has an impact even on much smaller levels such as that of UMW. There is no real fashion program, or major available, but with a location that makes accessibility to Washington D.C. easy, and is just a train ride from NYC the interest factor is there. So far, McDonough estimates there are about 20 people interested in joining Fashion International.
“If you’re going to experiment with fashion, college is the time to do it,” junior Emma Peck said. “I am also interested in how designers decide on trends every season.”