RIT students hit the runway at Fashion Week of Rochester modeling jewelry each designed

15 School for American Crafts students represent university’s largest presence at event to date




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A. Sue Weisler

Danlin Zhao,a graduate student in the metals and jewelry design program, models her creation at Fashion Week in Rochester Thursday night.

Students from Rochester Institute of Technology’s School for American Crafts (SAC) modeled stunning, self-designed jewelry during the opening runway show at Fashion Week of Rochester, held at the Tent in the Loop in the Inner Loop at Charlotte and Pitkin streets in downtown Rochester Thursday night.

RIT’s participation in this year’s Fashion Week marked the university’s largest presence in the three years that the metals and jewelry design program has been involved, according to Leonard Urso, the Ann Mowris Mulligan Distinguished Professor in SAC.

“Most of the student designers modeled their own works,” said Urso, an internationally recognized and award-winning silversmith. “The students’ work engages fashion, fine art, performance and jewelry-design concepts. Their creations reflect contemporary expressions that are made to enhance the human body.”

One of those students, Samyuktha Valluru, who is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in metals and jewelry design, said she found inspiration from geometric tessellations used in architecture for the dazzling piece she designed using paper and thread.

“I treat our body to be the space of display and my sculptural jewelry to be the architecture composed in that space,” said Valluru, from Vijayawada, India. “This piece took me weeks to create from start to finish since I had to figure out the way it composes itself on the body.”

Valluru expressed excitement for being able to model her design on a platform such as Rochester’s Fashion Week “since it represents a huge multicultural display of today’s high fashion.”

Kyriani Hinkleman, an MFA student in metals and jewelry design from Baltimore, Md., designed a large-scale neck piece out of recycled plastic bottles, dyed fishing line and filmstrip.

“My materials were woven together to create a form similar to a cloud,” said Hinkleman, who worked on the piece for two months. “During that time I played around with different techniques and methods of connecting materials.”

The inspiration behind her neck-and-shoulder creation is from the adages “head up in the clouds” and “Cloud Nine.”

“I really wanted to depict the emotions connected to those phrases,” observed Hinkleman, who modeled her jewelry as part of the “Fashion on the Edge” runway show. She admitted to being “a little nervous” since she had never modeled before “but knew it would be a fun and new experience.”

In addition to Valluru and Hinkleman, additional SAC student jewelry designers included Yi Yang of Xiamen, China; Xinhao Yang of Beijing; Julia Manson of Bradenton, Fla.; Danlin Zhao of Beijing; Kat Zhang of Beijing; Meiyi Yang of Shenzhen, China; Dongyi Wu of Xiamen, China; Ka Eun Jang of Rochester, N.Y.; Kerina Mangiaracina of Rochester, N.Y; Samantha Samek of Whitesboro, N.Y.; Rachel Weber of Rochester, N.Y.; Kendra Bush of Palmyra, N.Y.; and Daena Thompson of Christiansburg, Va..

Urso noted that RIT’s largest presence ever at Rochester’s Fashion Week and the fact that the school was chosen to be the opening act “underscores the evolutionary growth within our program’s commitment towards redefining the image of the fashion/jewelry aesthetic.”

“Like in past years, our presence reflects a rich multicultural influence and the ever flourishing role that emerging young women are playing in the design world,” Urso observed.

As a result of RIT’s growing role at the fashion event, he added, “I have designed a runway project within the metals and jewelry design curriculum.”

Fashion Week of Rochester is The Center for Youth’s largest annual fundraiser. Proceeds go to the organization’s homeless youth shelters and crisis services.