On the second floor of Bloomingdale’s flagship store, a mass of young stylists dressed in various degrees of all black fixed collars and hems on bright, colorful models, in a huddle that looked like a high-fashion, chocolate M&M cookie. It was minutes before FIT’s Runway27 club was going to host their second show at the department store.
Nerves were high as Vice President Molly D’amato gave a firm and encouraging command for everyone to get in their places. Besides an intimidating crowd of 100+ students, faculty, industry professionals and shoppers, this semester brought on a competition, judged by curator of the Maximalism and Minimalism exhibition at the FIT Museum. The same theme was placed on the stylists, challenging them to embrace their inner Leandra Medines or Helmut Langs.
Stylists could choose from any article of clothing and accessory on the vast second floor. The students welcomed the challenge and, as looks marched down the runway, the audience did too. The show was equally engaging and professional, providing a peek-a-boo into the future of an industry whose market values experiences over products.
Runway27 draws a diverse crowd of students from FIT, encouraging anyone and everyone to find a role in their massively popular club. “Everyone works hard. They know what they want to do here,” Says Jerry Miranda, a stylist backstage as he looks proudly towards his model. “When I was little, I wanted to be a designer for the longest time. And then I did my first fashion show, working production backstage, and I fell in love with the whole production side.”
Most students boast a similar story, citing their inspiration for joining the club. Beyond industry experience, and despite the many members, the club is close-knit. “It’s the friendships you make too. You get so connected with your model,” Miranda says. Likewise, winning stylist Grace Lee says one of her favorite parts of Runway27 are the friends and connections she’s made while participating in the club.
After models walked the finale, the judge picked three winning looks: best makeup, best walk, and best outfit. The models and their stylists took a victory lap, and the crowd, of course, went wild. Lee, taking the spotlight for best outfit, shared her thoughts on the show. “I had no idea my look was going to be… it. I really liked mixing the animal prints. I feel really good about my look.”
While most looks fell under the Bloomingdales aesthetic, they each stylist advocated for their own version of individuality. “I thought it was really interesting, and really cool,” recounts stylist Abraham Perez. “Everyone took an abstract approach to it. Some pieces were repeated, but used in different, drastic ways.” He even used inspiration from the original museum exhibition, taking form in his choice of bag. “I wanted there to be an argument, when you looked at my look, for it being maximalist and minimalist.”
“No matter when you jump in, or how late you jump in, how early, there’s always something for you to do—no matter your skill level. People are so open and willing to help you,” states Perez.
See all the looks from the show at @fit_runway27