Next week a flurry of fabric and dresses will descend upon northern Indiana with the first ever Fashion Week taking place Sept. 18-24. The week will feature promotions from Goshen retailers, stylish events and high-fashion couture, with over 10 events taking place in Elkhart, Middlebury, and Goshen during the week.
Goshen College alumnus Eugene Stutzman’s designs will be featured in a runway show alongside fashion from local retailers on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 7:30 p.m. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Goshen Theater.
All of the Eugene Alexander dresses that will be shown are originals crafted in the 1980s. The second half of the show will “transport you back into [the ‘80s],” said event producer Rachel Smucker. The decade’s hair, style and music will fill the runway and this show will be an opportunity for the community to experience the iconic decade.
The event is sponsored by the Eugene Alexander Hope Foundation. The foundation strives to raise awareness of LGBTQ rights as well as issues in the garment industry with production facilities. The EA Hope foundation was started in 2005, after the death of Stutzman’s business and romantic partner Alexander Wallace.
Another Goshen College alum, Susan Kauffman ‘84, is president and cofounder of the EA Hope foundation, and according to a press release from Goshen College, “has worked tirelessly to produce this show.” This is the fifth runway show that has been put on by the EA Hope foundation.
Since the start of the foundation, they have collected over 300 Eugene Alexander dresses. Along with the collection of the dresses came the collection of stories from the women who wore them. After hearing these stories, the foundation realized that these dresses had a big impact.
“A lot of the women who wore these dresses felt really empowered in [them],” said Smucker. She says the reason for this is because “[the] dresses really take up a lot of space, and the decoration [on the dresses is] loud, beautiful, breathtaking, and really captures the attention of the room.”
The dresses were also worn by notable people. Eugene Alexander dresses have been worn by Whitney Houston, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Rivers and Sarah Jessica Parker. The Eugene Alexander line was also carried by big name stores including Bloomingdales, Lord & Taylor, Marshall Field’s and Nordstrom.
Smucker said that “it is important for the Goshen College family to help support Goshen College family members.” Smucker encourages students to come out even if they have never been to a fashion show but are interested in art, as the dresses themselves are pieces of artwork.
Achieng Agutu, senior public relations major, intern and liaison for the fashion show, said, “This is the first time ever something of this caliber is being done in the Goshen/Elkhart area. Students should take advantage [of this] surge of energy in the arts...ride the wave, make connections at the event, and just enjoy the beauty that is fashion.”
Eugene Alexander’s work will also be displayed in the Hershberger Gallery in the Goshen College Music Center from Sept. 24 – Nov. 13, with a reception on Saturday, Oct. 7 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
“This fashion show is going to be a blast,” said Agutu, “and if you are planning on missing out, then what exactly are you doing?