Recapping the Runway: Project IMA 2015

The avant-garde looks you missed at the museum’s annual fashion-design competition.

Back after a three-year hiatus, the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s Project IMA 2015: Cutting Loose fashion show made up for lost time with unique looks by 19 designers.

Set to a strut-worthy soundtrack ranging from Best Coast to David Bowie, the event blasted off with “Lunar Eclipse: Earth,” a structural Issey Miyake–inspired ensemble by recent Art Institute of Indianapolis graduate Tendai Mazorodze, and ended with “Chute,” University of Michigan design professor Theresa Winge’s buoyant bubblegum-pink gown made from a deconstructed parachute. Chicago artist Hope Esser’s ethereal ivory nightgown, straight out of a Sofia Coppola daydream, jangled with dozens of tarnished antique keys alongside angular woodblock shoes, and Bloomington-based Red Ribbon Designs’ sheer skeleton-print gown evoked the techniques of Christopher Kane and Mary Katrantzou. The show’s more outrageous pieces included new local design troupe Maison Pomme de Terre’s pastry-themed “Donut Wear It On Your Sleeve” ensemble, handcrafted from recycled materials, and “Float,” a dress made out of inflatable pool toys by Heidi Wieland and Ian Kime of Cloud Preaser, an Indy group that produces public-art events.

The panel of judges, which included filmmaker Deborah Riley Draper, Project Runway contestant Nicolas Putvinski, and Chicago History Museum curator Petra Slinkard, deemed Indiana University fashion design student Cierra McNeal’s “CC-1” the winner of the $1,000 grand prize. McNeal’s minimalistic, neutral-toned design called to mind the aesthetic of the ’90s, as did the grungy vibe and playful proportions of seasoned local designer Beth Bennett’s plaid coat romper. Self-taught Nigerian designer Yemisi Sanni’s bold-hued evening gown, inspired by her own cultural heritage, was voted the audience’s favorite. If you missed the show, though, don’t worry—the classic pieces that inspired these modern creations will be on display at the museum until January 3 in the exhibit Cutting-Edge Fashion: Recent Acquisitions, featuring designs by Christian Dior and Christian Lacroix.