By Tyler Griffin
Graduating fashion students are busy preparing their capstone collections for the 31st annual Mass Exodus showcase on April 6 at Daniels Spectrum. Considered the largest student-run fashion show in the world, the event offers fourth-year-fashion design students the chance to show off their skills to potential employers and industry professionals. The Eye caught up with a handful of designers before the big day to hear about their lines.
Raised from birth by her grandmother, Fei Fei Li’s collection for Mass Exodus channels her idea of the ‘ideal granddaughter.’ A huge part of Asian culture is based on social status, Li says. She wanted to recreate the aura of confidence her grandmother holds. As opposed to being culturally inspired by traditional dress, Li’s collection takes after the simple and timeless garments her grandmother sports, with elegant patterns and bold shades. “Everyone who wears my luxury outerwear will have a more powerful feeling in them,” says Li.
Growing up, Li’s grandmother set a lot of expectations for her to reach, and every time she would reach it, her grandmother raised the bar even higher. This collection also acts as thanks to her grandmother for pushing her beyond barriers, despite how stressful those expectations could be. Her grandmother has seen two of the five garments but intends to surprise her with the rest.
Li said she sketched between 50 to 100 designs before she chose her top five to produce for Mass Ex. Originally not knowing what she wanted her collection to look like, her sketches kept naturally turning into outerwear. She noted that from first to third year, Rye fashion design students work on only one garment at a time, but for Mass Exodus, they’re suddenly working on five at once.
When asked what Mass Exodus means to her, Li said it represents “a sense of accomplishment.” She says the show gives her an opportunity to give back, to her four years in the program and to her grandparents for supporting her all these years. “It’s a lot of work, stress and sleepless nights, but it’s all done.”