When Buffalo State’s fashion and textile technology (FTT) students reveal their latest designs at Runway, the college's annual fashion show, on Saturday, April 22, they’ll also celebrate a decade of inspiration and fashion-forward thinking.
Over the past 10 years, Runway models have sashayed through the Burchfield Penney Art Center, the Pierce Arrow Building, and, most recently, the Campbell Student Union Social Hall for a night of haute couture. To commemorate its 10th anniversary, Runway, presented by the Eastman Foundation, will be held in a larger space—the 2,000-seat Sports Arena—for an evening-only show at 8:00 p.m.
This show is significant to FTT lecturer and Runway organizer Erin Habes, ’03, who helped organize the first show with 10 student designers, 70 models, and a tiny budget. Then a free event held at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the first Runway attracted 2,500 people—far more than expected.
“Due to fire codes, we could only admit 500 guests,” said Habes, who worked in New York City’s fashion world before returning to Buffalo to open a clothing store. “There was a line snaking out the door and across the Albright-Knox lawn! We brought in New York City fashion week components that I think Buffalo was craving. The excitement filled the air. I was surprised we pulled it off.”
She pulled it off so well that Elaine Polvinen, former FTT professor and Runway founder, asked Habes to take over the show.
“I was young and ambitious, so I agreed,” Habes said with a laugh.
Since then, Runway has evolved into a popular and well-attended event that showcases student designs selected by a jury of industry experts.
Ade Samuel, ’07 (at left), who has developed an impressive career as a celebrity stylist, will serve as a Runway judge along with Marla Coniglio, executive vice president of sales at Eastman Machine; Patti Lawley, co-owner of ANNARLETTE; and fashion photographer Luke Copping.
“Ade is one of my favorite former students and has become an incredible influence in the fashion world,” said Habes. “She’s worked with Kelly Rowland, Big Sean, Yara Shahidi, and Jhene Aiko. She was also one of the 35 stylists that worked on Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade.”
In its early years, professional fashion designers contributed to the show. Now the show is composed exclusively of student designers and incorporates student work from other majors including interior design, graphic design, and media production.
“Runway ends up being a wonderful collaboration,” Habes said. “Students learn to work within deadlines and maintain a level of consistent professionalism.”
Hundreds of local professional models, hair stylists, and makeup artists donate their time to this signature event, which follows a different theme each year. This year's Runway theme is “Remember/Imagine,” which focuses on future fashion trends while simultaneously reflecting on influences of the past.
The FTT Department is aiming to bring alumni back for “Remember/Imagine” by hosting its first Fashion Alumni Weekend, April 21–23.
Along with offering a night of glamour and creativity, Runway helps future students. Proceeds go toward the FTT Scholarship Fund. The department also offers the Elaine Polvinen Scholarship, in tribute to Polvinen who passed away in 2015, and the Runway Forever! Fund, created by a 2014 donation from Thomas Coates, former director of Events Management, and Brad Mazon, lecturer of Higher Education Administration.
“Runway raises thousands of dollars for students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to pursue a fashion career at Buffalo State,” Habes said.
As a nod to its anniversary, Runway's admission price has been lowered to $10. As always, there will be a $100 VIP package that includes a catered reception and a swag bag.
Runway Fashion Show
Saturday, April 22, 8:00 p.m.
Buffalo State Sports Arena
$10 per person pre-sale, $15 at the door
$100 for VIP tickets
Buy tickets online.
Fashion Alumni Weekend: April 21–23
Collection Opening Party
Friday, April 21, 6:00–8:00 p.m.
Burchfield Penney Arts Center
Alumni Lunch and Campus Tour
Saturday, April 22, noon–2:00 p.m.
Technology Building lobby
$15 per person
Sunday, April 23, 11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
Coles, 1104 Elmwood Ave.
$30 per person