This past week, Goshen College welcomed Eugene Stutzman ’73, a nationally-recognized fashion designer, back to Goshen. He and the Eugene Alexander Hope Foundation sponsored Fashion Week, an event in northern Indiana that is the first of its kind. As Fashion Week came to a close on Sept. 24, the exhibit “Eugene Alexander: The Fashion of Eugene Stutzman” opened at the Hershberger Gallery, located in the Music Center.
Stutzman was one half of Eugene Alexander, a fashion company Stutzman ran along with his late partner, Alexander Wallace. Stutzman and Wallace created fashion pieces under the Eugene Alexander label throughout the 1980s and early 1990s.
All 13 of the original gowns created by Stutzman and Wallace are on display in the exhibit. The gowns were featured in a runway show at the Goshen Theater on Sept. 23 in the culminating runway show for Fashion Week. The exhibit was coordinated by Rachel Smucker and curated by Susan Kauffman. Fashion holds a certain kind of transformative magic for the wearer that certainly deserves recognition, Smucker said.
“It feels great to be able to display these gowns in such a beautiful gallery and to have fashion recognized as a gallery work,” said Stutzman.
The gowns on display were worn by notable people. Under the Eugene Alexander label, Stutzman created dresses worn by Whitney Houston, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Rivers and Sarah Jessica Parker. Placed on individually decorated mannequins around the perimeter of the gallery, a black velvet water lily jacket, a draped platinum silk lame gown, and white matte jersey, white-gold hibiscus one-shoulder gown once worn in 1986 by Whitney Houston and in the opening scene of the “Sex and the City” movie by Sarah Jessica Parker are just a selection from the display.
“I’m dazzled by the beauty and artistry of fashion,” said incoming Goshen College president Rebecca Stoltzfus, one of the attendees at the gallery opening, “and by Eugene’s story and integrity as an artist.”
Fashion Week and the exhibit coincide with the first time Stutzman has been back on campus in 40 years. Stutzman feels great regarding how, upon his return, Goshen College has received his and Wallace’s work.
“Being able to honor my husband in this way is why coming back is so important,” said Stutzman.
“Eugene Alexander: The Fashion of Eugene Stutzman” is on display in the Hershberger Gallery until Nov. 13, 2017, with a reception on Saturday, Oct. 7 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.