MassArt Fashion Design Students Begin Their Thesis Collections

Runway models present the Sabrina Hollander collection. PHOTO: KELLY DAVIDSON, COURTESY OF MASSART

On Saturday May 14, models marched on the catwalk of the MassArt 2022 Fashion Show, showing months of work by senior fashion design program graduates. Titled “404 Not Found”, the show featured the work of 21 students exploring themes such as race, gender, bereavement, environment and inclusivity.

Sabrina Hollander, a Guatemalan streetwear designer, dedicated her collection to her late cousin, who died in a car accident. “In Memory Of…” examines the grieving process and how people grow following and despite tragic personal losses.

“In Memory Of…” collection by Sabrina Hollander PHOTO: ERIC MAGNUSSEN

“In my collection, I focus on using the traditional color of grief, black, while using a printed fabric full of colorful messages to showcase the journey through grief and growth, and how the two can co-exist. “explains Hollander. The print is a vibrant religious iconographic design reminiscent of the artwork on a prayer candle, reminding him of the prayer candles his family would light to honor lost loved ones. “In Hispanic culture, we mostly use religion as a way to grieve,” she says.

Hollander translates these challenging themes into streetwear clothing. With the iconographic motif printed on denim, she created a unisex matching set consisting of loose straight-leg pants and a matching jacket. In another look, a black jumpsuit is offset by pockets in the printed fabric, a subtle but cheeky nod to the collection’s theme.

“Although you see most of my models are women presenting, I could see this collection worn by anyone at any time, and that includes being worn to a funeral,” Hollander explains. This intention itself refers to the theme of “growth”. Even though loved ones are lost, life moves on. These streetwear items can be worn anywhere, but they carry the burden of loss, just as a grieving person lives their daily life after a loss.

A piece from the Kayla Tynes collection, “The Black In Red White And Blue”. PHOTO: COURTESY OF KAYLA TYNES

Kayla Tynes’ collection, “The Black In Red White And Blue”, is the result of a deep reflection on the experience of black people in the United States, and more specifically, in the culture industry. Tynes was inspired by “Watch the Throne”, a collaborative album between Jay-Z and Kanye West. Although the album was released over 10 years ago, Tynes found the content about inequality in the black community still rings very true.

“I tried to structure my look and symbolism the same way rappers structure their lyrics, referencing a lot but packing it where if you get the reference you get it, and if you don’t you don’t, you still have to dig,” says Tynes.

In one song, the artists refer to crabs in a barrel swooping down rather than rallying against larger community issues. Tynes channeled this idea through layers of texture that embody a caged experience, such as a mesh bodysuit and chain accessories. In one particularly standout look, a long, sleeveless denim coat has the names of victims of police brutality in large red letters.

A runway model features the Kayla Tynes collection. PHOTO: KELLY DAVIDSON, COURTESY OF MASSART

Tynes has roots in costume design and approaches his work with narrative and characters in mind. It’s one of the reasons she felt so inspired by “Watch the Throne,” where cultural issues are presented in the rhythmic storytelling format of rap.

As these 21 designers leave the nest of MassArt and venture into the world of professional design, they have more important concerns in mind than their own next steps. Each collection is a reflection of the complex world in which these young talents enter and the challenges they may face.

Tynes hopes the show has inspired viewers to think about deeper issues than just the aesthetics of the clothes. “It’s a very personal look at how I process my identity and what I would call my part of the black experience,” she says. “Hopefully the audience member has some work to do.”

Joseph E. Golightly