As appearing in CHHS.Source.colostate.edu | Jan., 2022 | by Mark Gokavi
‘Girl Powder,’ Scaasi’s glamour, New Threads make up Avenir’s Spring 2022 exhibits
Colorado State University Ph.D. student Kate Schmidt wants to make fashionable, functional winter sports clothing for women. She absolutely would love to see her Girl Powder collection – a portfolio of seven skiing looks that comprises one of three exhibits opening Feb. 1 at the Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising – all over the slopes of Colorado and beyond.
But she does not think she could put the originals on herself. “I really like to ski, but I don’t think I could ever see myself actually wearing the garments unless they were professionally produced, just because I spent so much time on them that I don’t want anything to happen to them,” said Schmidt.
“So, it is like I don’t view them as actual wearable garments, but they are, they’re completely wearable. It’s just I don’t want to ruin them.”
Along with the Girl Powder collection, the Avenir also will unveil New Threads Spring 2022 and an exhibit from noted designer Arnold Scaasi, who dressed many U.S. first ladies and movie stars.
From schoolwork to display
Schmidt, who graduated from CSU in 2020 with an M.S. from the Department of Design and Merchandising, is seeking a Ph.D. from CSU’s School of Education so that she can be a professor.
“I did qualitative research during my master’s that showed a little bit of unhappiness in the women that I interviewed with the options and availability of the garments that suited their needs,” said Schmidt, who upcycled a mink coat for trim and a puffer vest for combination shorts and leggings. “I hope that (people) can feel the emotional connection that I have to all the garments.”
Megan Osborne, the Avenir’s assistant curator and collections manager, said the museum is “so happy” to present Girl Powder, which is described as outfits that embrace athleticism and functionality while holding femininity at the crux.
“The ability to exhibit the exceptional work produced by our DM graduate students is a thrill for us,” Osborne said. “Kate’s work is beautifully constructed and thoughtfully designed. I am excited for visitors to learn more about the rigorous academic research that was undertaken as the foundation of this collection.”
Working, teaching, designing
Schmidt said she did not know her coursework would later result in an exhibit. “It was a surprise, like a really good surprise, though,” she said. “I feel like the nerve-wracking part is over. I get to enjoy the fruits of my labor finally.”
Though she is working on her Ph.D. and teaching this semester, Schmidt is still working in the fashion industry. She said she is an apparel designer at Smartwool in Denver and doing design work for Krimson Klover, both in contract positions.
Schmidt’s exhibit will be on display through May 6, and she is glad her fiancé plus other family, friends and colleagues will get a chance to see her work.
“It definitely was a passion project and a labor of love in many ways,” she said. “I really hope that that shines through.”
Scaasi: Elegance and Glamour from Day to Night
Scaasi, who died in 2015, created fashionably chic clothing from the mid to late 20th century. His clients ranged from celebrities to socialites and the political elite. “Clothes with some adornment are more interesting to look at and more fun to wear,” Scassi once said.
The museum wrote that the “dazzling collection of glamorous evening wear and stylishly smart daywear from the permanent collection of the Avenir Museum will be on view” until July 1. The designer donated the collection to CSU in the mid-1990s.
“This exhibition is an exploration of Arnold Scaasi’s love of color,” Osborne said. “He used color throughout his career but was really able to hone the power of bright vibrantly colored garments in the last few decades of his working life.
“The pieces are fun and glamorous while staying true to the elegant style and expertly constructed garments Scaasi was known for.”
New Threads Spring 2022
In the New Threads exhibit, the museum invites visitors to learn what makes an object “museum worthy” and how the lengthy process takes place once it has been identified for acceptance. Osborne said this collection is the sixth installment of this exhibition, which will be an ongoing display.
“We explore what about the object made it interesting to us and why we wanted to add it to the permanent collection,” Osborne said. “The eclectic Spring ‘22 installment includes a turn of the 20th century Macedonian wedding apron, a little black dress by YSL and a ‘Niddy Noddy.’”