By Chasity Hale
On June 2, the first-ever MINT gala took place in Paul Brest Hall. The MINT gala, cosponsored by the Student Organizing Committee for the Arts, Stanford Arts, Cardinal Nights, the Stanford Concert Network and Stanford Women in Design, and supported by VFILES, Bloomingdale’s, Norma Kamali and Lancôme, was themed “Metamorphosis: Fashion Change.”
Guests began arriving at 7:00 pm, checked in and took seats at round tables decorated with potted plant centerpieces and flameless candles. A raised catwalk ran through the center of the room. Two projection screens, one on the left of the platform and one to the right of it, displayed graphics of a butterfly (seemingly composed of multi-colored pixels). Many people visited and took pictures with the various installations. In-front of the foyer, where the box office was, was the “Floral Jungle Entrance,” an archway wrapped in twining vines, pink and purple flowers (conceived of by the MINT events team). Also in front of the foyer was “The GRID,” an “LED laser water lattice,” made by Charlotte Thun-Hohenstein (third year PhD candidate), which went into full effect at night time, glowing neon green against the black night. In the Rehnquist courtyard was “The Tent,” a light installation by studioYORK, where people entered into a silvery, doorless dome, which displayed a wash of changing colors. Inside Paul Brest was a photo booth.
At 7:45 pm, guests went through the buffet queue, selecting their dinner, and filtering into the room until nearly every seat was filled. At 8:10 pm, the first live musical performer, Hajar Alzerma ‘18 took to the stage, setting the cool and inviting tone that would be maintained throughout the night. At 8:30 pm, the fashion show, titled “Don’t Be Scared//For the Children,” commenced.
Student-designer Danyele Brown ‘18, whose items were showcased, began the event enveloped in a wispy, translucent fabric. Like a caterpillar cocooned in silk, Brown wriggled at the end of the catwalk as models walked. Models wore unique, vibrantly colored clothes. Some were styled in unconventional ways. For example, one model did not put their arms through the sleeves of the shirt, but rather let the long sleeves droop down to their sides.
The show featured sublimated prints (made by Brown), ankle socks, shirts with fringe, bubble coats and more. Details such as teal blue eyeshadow, and bright pink caps to match a model’s bright pink hair stood out. Music played. Red and blue lights flashed. Amidst all of this, videos — of a gospel choir, of people on talk shows and more — played on the two projectors. All of the people in the videos were black (as were the models). Two particularly important clips, it seemed to me, were: (1) a video of children playing in their room together and (2) a video of a person critiquing masculinities, and discussing how “the gender box is like a prison cell.” These two clips were emblematic of the show’s themes of “black gender sexual violence, gay and trans creativity, and childishness.” Eventually, Brown, as butterflies do, emerged from chrysalis.
The fashion show was made with the support of Bloomingdales, who provided styling advice and additional pieces for the event.
Immediately after the fashion show, Cat Davis ‘21 took the stage, lauding the fashion show, encouraging the audience to talk about what just took place and then launching into a beautiful rendition of “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse. Davis marked the last of the musical performances before the speaker portion of the night began.
The first speech was given by Iman Floyd-Carroll ‘20, one of MINT’s editors-in-chiefs. Floyd-Carroll spoke about how MINT, Stanford’s first and “only student-run fashion and print culture magazine,” has been, in accordance with the night’s theme, undergoing a metamorphosis. MINT, founded in 2013 by Ashley Overbeek, emerged as a response to the Bay Area’s perceived “dismissal” of fashion. Since then, Iman noted that “MINT has existed in many iterations,” and that her job as an editor-in-chief has been to “understand the mission of MINT,” promoting conversation and supporting artist, and “curtating MINT’s sentiment” of inclusivity and diversity within their audience. MINT, in the words of Iman, aspires to “create beautiful art, conversations and communities.”
The following speaker, Julie Anne-Quay, re-emphasized the importance of inclusivity and diversity in fashion with discussion of her fashion-oriented social media platform VFILES, which she created as a means to open more windows for people to enter into the fashion and music worlds. Anne-Quay described VFILES as “leftovers in your Gucci bag, a five-foot two-inch model…” meaning it is a place where anyone interested in fashion can get involved. You get to say who you are,” said Anne-Quay as she encouraged the students in the room to pursue their dreams, to “make noise” and “be heard.” On VFILEs, creatives can post, browse and shop.
The next, and final keynote speaker, Barbara Tfkank echoed Anne-Quay’s message about the importance of pursuing one’s dreams. Tfank talked about how she staged her first fashion show when she was ten years old, dressing her neighborhood friends in her mother’s nightgowns. Years later, she bought vintage fabrics, made dresses and tried to sell them to Barney’s. She didn’t know much about marketing at the time, but she was bold, jumping right into the fashion scene because she knew it was what she wanted to do. Amazingly, they liked and bought her designs. Today, she is a celebrated designer, known for making dresses for high-profile clients such as Michelle Obama.
All of the installations at the gala were aligned with the theme of metamorphosis. The artists and the speakers talked about how the fashion world is changing to incorporate more people of varied identities, new technologies, etc. The future of fashion is uncertain, but that’s the exciting thing about it. Like Iman said in her speech, quoting Coco Capitán, the members of the fashion community have the opportunity to decide: “What are [they] going to do with all this future?”
I immensely enjoyed viewing the student artworks, and hearing about the current changes in the fashion world. I also enjoyed talking with attendees about the metamorphoses that they themselves were embodying at the gala. Below are images and quotes from some of the guests.
Contact Chasity Hale at cah70352 ‘at’ stanford.edu.