The Silliman College dining hall transformed on Friday night into a luminous runway to host a parade of students cast as models by Y Fashion House, a student-run design and fashion organization at Yale. Around 200 members of the Yale community attended the Y Fashion Show, and roughly 40 undergraduates participated as models.

The event opened with a performance by Low Strung, an undergraduate student music group that claims to be the largest all-cello all-rock band in the world. Following the performance, the fashion show began as the models walked down the runway, one by one, charming the audience with style and confidence. According to Hazen Mayo ’19 — one of the three presidents of Y Fashion, along with Evin Henriquez-Groves ’19 and Kenny Seals-Nutt ’18 — the rationale behind this year’s show was to portray a range of fashion items from past, present and future.

“People often fail to appreciate fashion as a form of artistic expression,” Mayo said. “So this show is an effort to explore fashion as an art form through the lenses of pop and visual culture.”

In preparation for the show, the organizers studied film, photography and haute couture, and tried to accommodate elements from all these mediums in their show.

Members of Y Fashion House obtained the clothes from small local boutiques in the Elm City, such as Modern Trousseau and Vintanthromodern, as well as a few small boutiques in New York. The show featured some pieces by student designers from the Fashion Institute of Technology, the Parsons School of Design and Rutgers University, in addition to a few pieces by a staff member in the Saybrook College dining hall.

The articles on display ranged from classic looks, like hoodies and jeans, to elaborately designed tops, all the way to a few wedding dresses. One of the most striking male outfits was a ruffled, turtleneck crop top paired with black jeans, and another was an alternative take on the classic jeans and coat look, which featured a pair of black jeans with a patched, multi-patterned hem. Some remarkable female outfits included an array of dresses, such as a white veil dress with ornate embroidered blue flowers, and a geometric grey dress with sharp, pointy shoulder pads that created an armored look. Finally, a few of the male models sported topless looks that added a provocative flare to the show.

“What I loved the most was seeing the variety of beautiful people modeling, and seeing their confidence as they put on their wild outfits and strut down the runway,” model Makena Ithau ’20 said.

While the show was professional and well-organized, it also fostered a comfortable atmosphere between the audience and the models, who frequently interacted with spectators. Each model had a unique attitude: Some maintained a serious tone, while others danced down the runway and actively engaged with the crowd.

The cast featured a diverse collection of students with varying levels of modeling experience. Mayo stressed this aspect of the show as the most important goal of Y Fashion House. She emphasized that the group aims to “deconstruct traditional conceptions of beauty and empower models to participate in this art form while being themselves.” During casting, she said, many of the models expressed concerns about not fitting into the traditional mold of what a model looks like — exactly the paradigm Y Fashion House seeks to challenge.

“It was a great experience to work with a group of people that is otherwise scattered across very different communities and social spheres at Yale,” said model Joshua Monrad ’20.

Monrad also addressed the clothing presented at the show, saying it included “some bold and intriguing pieces and that gave it a sense of being out of the ordinary.” He also expressed appreciation to the organizers for including designs from his brother’s Copenhagen-based menswear brand, All At Sea.

Valentina Wakeman ’20 reiterated the importance of a diverse cast and said the show gives people a chance to express themselves in a creative manner.

“It makes me happy to see people who I only know in the context of the classroom express this whole other side of themselves through this creative form of expression,” Wakeman said.

Y Fashion House was created in 2015.

Sophia Catsambi | sophia.catsambi@yale.edu