Twenty students and alumni from RIT’s School for American Crafts (SAC)—and a special new member of the RIT community—modeled dazzling jewelry during the Oct. 12 runway show at Fashion Week of Rochester.
The students and alumni modeling self-designed jewelry were joined by Nancy Munson, the wife of RIT President David Munson, during the eighth Annual Fashion Week of Rochester last Thursday.
Held this year on the runway under a big clear tent next to Midtown Athletic Club, 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.
RIT’s participation in this year’s event marked the university’s largest presence in the several years that the metals and jewelry design program has been involved in Fashion Week, according to Leonard Urso, the Ann Mowris Mulligan Distinguished Professor in SAC.
“The majority of the models, both male and female, were from our metals and jewelry program, and we had students and alumni from India, China, Kuwait, Korea as well as the United States participate,” said Urso, an internationally recognized and award-winning artist nearing his 35th year at RIT. “Their creations reflect contemporary expressions of design.”
Urso specifically commended Kaeun Jang from South Korea, Moneerah Alayar of Kuwait, and Kathleen Ma from Shanghai, China for their leadership roles during the event. He also said he was thrilled with the role that Nancy Munson could play this year.
“I was introduced to Nancy by (Center of Youth Executive Director) Elaine Spaull, who had previously informed me that Nancy expressed interest in joining the RIT runway presentation,” Urso said. “She’s a very community-minded person.”
Every year Urso said he creates a work of art to support raising money for the fundraising event, and this year marked his first jewelry piece to be auctioned.
“It’s a large piece that I created that reflects the symbolic image of humanity,” he said. “Nancy was very easy to work with … she has a very honest appeal and it was great that she could be part of the RIT team.”
In all, this year’s five nights of runway shows highlighting Rochester-area boutiques and fashion designers as well as aspiring models raised nearly $700,000 for The Center for Youth.
Urso said he will travel to China’s Gemological Institute on the heels of Fashion Week to speak at a conference about RIT’s role in the event as well as take a group of students to New York City in December to “interface with various people in the fashion industry.” Part of his visit to New York will include time at the famed Dover Street Market, the city’s hip, sprawling showcase of high-end clothing and fashion-forward display.
As a result of RIT’s growing role at the annual fashion event, Urso said the runway project has become an evergrowing part of the metals and jewelry design curriculum that he teaches along with Juan Carlos Cabellero-Perez, a professor in SAC’s metals program.