St. Clair College is preparing for a one-of-a-kind fashion show for graduating fashion design students.
Runway With Robotics is this year’s version of the annual fashion show and will feature a twist and a turn from something other than human models – robots.
Fashion Design Technician Program Coordinator and Professor Elaine Chatwood said the annual fashion show – a year-end event for graduating students – was almost cancelled a few times due to COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns.
Traditionally the program’s year end affair consists of every grad student’s three to five outfit collection in any category or size including men’s and women’s clothing.
Multiple ideas were rejected or were not logistically possible such as filming clothed dress forms moving down a conveyor belt in a factory and even sending them down a zipline outdoors.
Chatwood eventually landed on the idea of mounting dress forms to a flat robotic base, known as an AGV (Autonomous Guided Vehicle), remote controlled to a specific runway path in place of human models.
But she could not do it alone. Chatwood called upon fellow faculty members in Robotics and Graphic Design.
Al Douglas, who teaches in the Electromechanical Engineering Technician-Robotics program, helped bring the idea to life. Other than extensive preparation in a short amount of time, Douglas said his only job during the event was to drive the AGV with a Playstation controller.
“The most difficult part (for me) was building an adapter to mount the dress forms securely to the base on a post which allows you to pull one off and quickly change to another.”
Each outfit making its way down the runway will be filmed and edited into two final programs to be streamed on the internet. One for the class of 2021 and another for 2020 grad students.
The pre-taped web stream event planned for later this month will be the first to demonstrate student’s designs modeled by robots.
Due to college protocols, what normally involves 50 to 70 models is only allowed a bare bones crew of 10 people to participate in the filming including Douglas and Chatwood herself.
No graduating students will be attending the taping where their designs will also be photographed for their professional portfolios.
Douglas said the taping should go smoothly is going to be pretty neat.
“She (Chatwood) does a lot for her program and the students. This really shows it.”
Graphic Design professors Nick Kuipers and Glenn Evans enlisted their students to create a poster and other marketing material, as well as a custom website for the event.
Although the event sponsored by the SCC Alumni Association is very important to students for networking and their final portfolios, there is also $2000 in scholarship funds up for grabs.
Telio Fabrics (Montreal) and the SCC Alumni Association will separately award $1000 to the first-place winner of the 2021 and 2020 program, respectively.
Chatwood plans to distribute the final event to industry professionals to select the winners based on four categories of criteria.
Winners will be announced during the web stream, which airs June 25 at 8 p.m. at stclaircollege.ca/atelier.
“I always try to be as prepared as possible, but I understand that anything can ultimately go wrong," Chatwood said. "It’s just too bad the students didn’t get to have a hands-on experience putting the show together like in years past.”