Courtesy of MAISON

Over 200 Yale students dressed in “chaotic cocktail attire” gathered at the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking last Saturday to watch Yale’s first fashion show in five years. 

The event, titled “Entropy,” was hosted by MAISON at Yale, the University’s newest arts and fashion collective. MAISON arose from the “fallout” of the previous club Yale Fashion House, as previous YFH member Mona Chen ‘25 wished to continue promoting fashion at Yale. Chen now serves as MAISON’s co-president. 

Michelle Zheng ‘25, the organization’s head of publicity, wrote to the News that she and Chen wanted to combat the typical stereotypes of fashion organizations as “exclusive and seemingly elitist.” The name Maison — which is French for “house” or “home” — was chosen to exemplify the welcoming and inclusive atmosphere Zheng and Chen wanted to curate. 

“MAISON is both a house and home for all individuals interested in fashion, whether through daily stylistic expression, artistic design, or more,” Zheng said.

MAISON is “effectively the only student [organization] focused on fashion,” according to Chen. While Yale has a number of organizations dedicated to finance and consulting, STEM, leadership programs and other forms of creative expression such as a cappella and theater, “a fashion club stands out, belonging to a realm people generally don’t consider essential to the student experience,” Zheng added. 

For the leaders of MAISON, fashion is more than what one wears on a day-to-day basis — it’s the foundation of personal identity and a driver of self-confidence, according to Chen. 

“Garments have such a special transformative power and exuberate beauty on a deeper level that’s beyond just being pretty,” Chen said. 

Saturday’s fashion show was the first major event that MAISON has hosted. The two-hour show featured 38 models and 15 designers, including Parsons and RISD students and local New Haven designers such as Neville Wisdom and MiniPNG. The models were all Yale students. 

MAISON wanted Entropy to be an “explosion of creativity”, featuring “drastically different styles,” Chen noted.  

“Audience got to see heels but also frat shoes, jeans but also formal dresses, clothes that are ready-to-wear, but also clothes that didn’t even look like clothes at first sight,” Chen said. 

Just as the name Entropy suggests, Chen said that she and the MAISON team wanted to curate disorder, randomness and uncertainty, as well as showcase the “beauty of imperfection.”

Kai Chen’s ‘26 garments feature almost entirely secondhand or vintage materials, such as old torn quilts and lace tablecloths, that they’ve collected from places like eBay, Etsy and local thrift stores. 

Chen said they aim for their jewelry and garments — which are hand-sewn — to be “dreamy and otherworldly” while possessing a certain softness. 

“As someone who identifies as genderqueer and grew up sort of avoiding any expressions of femininity/softness, participating and designing these sorts of crafts…has been really liberating and expressive,” they wrote to the News. 

Chen said they draw inspiration from, amongst other places, late-20th century feminist craft movements.

Lydia Lee ‘23, another designer for Entropy, said she asked herself what would happen “if three mermaids accidentally walked onto a runway” while designing her crocheted garments — mostly made from recycled yarn — for Saturday’s show. 

Lee learned to crochet at age seven, and said she mastered her craft by crocheting outfits for her dolls. At the beginning of this year, Lydia had “design looks for a runway” on her New Year’s bucket list. 

“When I heard of the opportunity to design for MAISON’s runway, I was ecstatic,” Lee wrote to the News. 

As for what’s next for MAISON, Mona Chen said she hopes to bring notable speakers from the fashion industry to Yale, showing students that “there are more career possibilities than the ones we are usually exposed to.”

MAISON also hopes to further incorporate sustainable fashion into their organization, according to club leaders, as well as reach outside of Yale to nonprofits. Other possible future programs include modeling or clothing design workshops and closet sales. MAISON also plans on continuing the annual Yale Fashion Show for years to come. 

“We’re definitely looking for new members to carry this tradition down the line,” Zheng said. 

The Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale is located at 17 Prospect St.