Too Cool for School: NYU EXPO's Benefit Fashion Show

A few weeks ago, we were graciously invited to join the judging panel at NYU's annual EXPO runway event, which showcased a mix of looks from established industry talents like Vena Cava and Cushnie et Ochs as well as several student designs. We were more than happy to trek downtown to our alma mater's campus, where we enjoyed modern dance numbers and catwalk creations modeled by members of NYU's student body.

This year's theme was "the butterfly effect" — the notion that the smallest action can cause immense change — and the event's proceeds went to Hamilton-Madison House, a nonprofit organization that aids NYC's low-income families.

For the student design competition itself, NYU undergrads were asked to submit original looks inspired by the Lumière Brothers' 1899 film The Serpentine Dance. The catch? In the interest of eco-friendliness, all entries were required to incorporate recycled and repurposed materials. After three finalists exhibited their work, Taipei-born 20-year-old Debbie Yang nabbed top honors for her design, entitled "Loïe."

"The bodice is created entirely from plastic bags," explained Yang. "I braided individual strips of blue and white plastic, then melted them to generate a soft, swirled texture." She even added a handmade accessory, a "floral headpiece created by mixing chiffon and white plastic bags." Paying tribute to both her favorite iconic designer, Madeleine Vionnet, and the video prompt EXPO had provided, Yang aimed to capture the "organic, billowing forms" seen in the Lumière Brothers' film. We thought she did a stellar job, and were thrilled that Marie Claire could be part of this entirely student-organized event.

For more info on EXPO, check out

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