Schoolhouse Rock: UNCG Hosts Style in Stereo Where Fashion Rules
At the end of the third annual Style In Stereo, organizer Lauren Waymouth stands in the lobby outside the ballroom clutching a bouquet of flowers and accepting congratulations from friends.
She is a lot shorter off the catwalk, even with her hair piled high, and still wears the cotton shift she modeled for the last collection of fashions, ‘“The White Line.’”
‘“It was perfect,’” Waymouth says, ‘“I couldn’t have asked for anything better.’”
Around her the staff of UNCG’s Elliot University Center try to herd the capacity crowd out the door. The models apply cold cream and pull on jeans in a side room littered with white garments.
Tonight’s show, and the two preceding it, consists of four fashion lines grouped under a theme and accompanied by live music. Organizers titled the first line ‘“Beach Neauveaux,’” and the clothes featured included casually elegant frocks, sexy swimwear paired with sheer cover-ups and irreverent interpretations of haute couture.
‘“This is a line of fashions for a post-apocalyptic oceanfront,’” announces a young-sounding voiceover before Chapel-Hill based band The Never starts playing.
According to the designers’ vision, the women who weather World War III, or whatever other form of Armageddon strikes your fancy, will wear cute summer dresses. The men will wear packing materials. One of the models wore jeans and a bubble wrap top sculpted to look like a shark fin designed by Jemarl Kearney.
The band dresses more appropriately for the season outside, in slacks, turtlenecks, coats and other inland gear. Between their originals, the quartet musters a respectable cover of T. Rex’s ‘“Jeepster,’” a song from the seventies heyday of fashion/rock romance.
But the band leaves most of the swagger to the models. They take the stage from a screened entrance off right, walk down a tiered runway and back up to cross in front of the band, repeat the walk down a parallel runway across the hall and cross again to help the next onstage.
Style in Stereo started two years ago when aspiring WUAG-FM promotions director Aaron Austin pitched the idea during his interview for the position. The fashion/music show was intended to be a huge event that would raise funds for the UNCG student radio station. Austin got the job and produced the first huge event; the show has grown every year since.
‘“We rearranged things so that we could fit in the most seats we’ve ever had,’” says Jack Bonney, the WUAG station manager. Last year’s event raised $1,200 for things like releasing the Sub-Rosa compilation and other station activities. This year promotions director Lauren Waymouth and he hope to top that total by $300.
Back in the standing-room only ballroom in the Elliot University Center, conversations fade as the Illuminati tune-up for the second line of clothes titled ‘“Replaced by Toys.’” A video backdrop of plastic army men illustrate the inspiration for outfits inspired by, but not confined to, the kid’s aisle.
Some of the fashions transpose Barbie-sized glamour onto adult proportions, while another borrows the homespun style of Raggedy Ann. This line features the most impractical item of clothing that crosses the runways: a pair of block-bottomed pants designed by Kelly Cox and cribbed from geometric Lego-Men. Model Danyul Abbott acquits himself admirably, never once stumbling over the bulky tailoring covering his calves.
The Illuminati are a trio of bass, drums and keyboard. They accompany the procession of colorful, polyester fashions with jazzy melodies heavy on synthesizer. Designers and models line up on stage, ending the jam after 28 models and about 30 minutes.
Each year this process begins with a model search that starts in mid-September followed by designer recruitment. Many of those designing the clothes come from UNCG’s own textile design and marketing department. Recent graduates and friends also contribute fashions to the show.
Designers and models come together at one big meeting where the WUAG promotions director unveils the four themes. They pair up and designers choose how many fashions they will create for one or all of the lines. From there the work moves to university labs, home workshops and fabric stores.
Designers drew the inspiration for the third line from travel, and several of the pieces evoke flight attendants, pilots and other mobile careers. The soundtrack is provided by Tiger Bear Wolf, the most homegrown group of musicians on the bill hailing from as close as Guilford College. The group’s flannel and denim matches a gritty sound that swaggers into sultriness.
Rock passed the high fashion torch to hip-hop sometime during the last decade of the 20th century, around the time that grunge hit the airwaves. Before that rock stars often kept company with fashion designers or made the rounds on the arms of high-profile models.
So it is in keeping with this turn of events that this Style in Stereo should end with a hip-hop trio from Atlanta, Psyche Origami.
With ‘“The White Line,’” the designers challenge the notion that white is a fashion statement restricted to the months between Memorial and Labor Days. On this late fall night the models line up across the stage in front of the MC, who is trying to whip up the crowd.
‘“Yeah baby, that’s hot,’” comes a shouted response from the back of the ballroom. Waymouth comes out on stage to thank all of those who helped with the show, then the photographers pack their bags and the lights come up.
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