Depeche MODA: “Atomic Fashion” at the Renaissance Society

“Do you think I can wear this outside?” My roommate said to me at one point this year, pointing to an enormous hole in the seat of his beige cargo pants. “I mean … it’s not that big …”

This is the sort of attitude that generally comes to mind when people think of UChicago and fashion. Karl Lagerfeld’s hair would probably turn black with grief if he could see the attendees at Bar Night or if he was to take a tour around the quads on a Monday morning, but MODA, UChicago’s fashion organization, although it may not quite be Chanel, means to change this.
Despite having already put out an immensely popular fashion show this past March, ran tutorials for prospective designers, and been preparing to put out an issue of its annual magazine, MODA has prepared even more for the end of this year. Prepare for a double dose of fashion re-education this week as MODA presents two shows: one with the Renaissance Society in the same space as Katharina Grosse’s installation “Atoms inside Balloons” on Thursday, “Atomic Fashion”, and then Saturday MODA teams up with FOTA to give you even more reason to trade in your pocket protectors for rhinestone studded fingerless gloves.
Thursdays show at the Renaissance Society should be of particular interest, as it heralds a new collaboration between the Wrens and MODA, with the models actually walking amongst the giant painted-balloons Katharina Gross has installed. Focusing more on “punky, edgy, DIY styles”, a break from MODA’s tradition of showcasing many of the more “high fashion” chic styles you might normally expect to see at a fashion show, it should be of interest to anyone who ever wondered “What can I do with this pair of scissors and that jean jacket?” A product of a several week-long collaboration between five undergraduates and one recent graduate student, all of whom have made clothes from fabric they’ve acquired themselves or from clothes they’ve “deconstructed,” this show should be of interest to even the most hardcore anti-fashionistas. Get there early, as MODA’s events tend to be incredibly popular.
This Saturdays show, part of the Festival of the Arts launch party, consists of work by undergrads who have been studying fashion design under MODA’s direction all year. Churned out of MODA’s designer “boot camp,” which teaches students admitted to its program the basics of fashion design, these students will present a variety of the pieces they have created, under both senior members of Moda and Chicago designer Mark Lin’s direction, since September. The students comprising the show, many of whom are Visual Arts majors, promise to put on an event that is both “eclectic and exciting,” incorporating a wide variety of styles.
Finally, spring has come to Chicago. Sweat pants and t-shirts with moth holes are in, the polo shirt has come out of hiding and the Econ majors have trundled out their two-piece suits and put their three piece suits in moth balls until next fall. But, as fashionable as cargo pants with holes in the butt truly are, sometimes a little variety or a little more coverage is in order. Perhaps, at the end of the week, after going to both MODA shows, instead of asking about the hole in his pants, my roommate will look over and ask “Are holes out this season?”
“Atomic Fashion.” Cobb Hall, 5811 S. Ellis Ave. Fourth Floor. May 10. Thursday, 6pm.
FOTA Launch Party. Hutchinson Courtyard, 1135 E. 57th St. May 12. Saturday, 9pm.