PHOTO: Dresses designed by O’More College of Art and Design students are on display inside the Abbey-Leix Mansion on Thursday, May 3, 2018.//Brooke Wanser

By BROOKE WANSER

Mannequins dressed in student-designed gowns guarded the hallways inside the Abbey-Leix Mansion in downtown Franklin on Thursday.

One week before the annual student fashion show, O’More College of Art and Design President Shari Fox was helping administer finals in the school’s final semester in Franklin.

The fashion show, begun in the late 1990s, has improved over the years and become a community tradition.

Though O’More will move its campus to Nashville in the fall, “We will definitely be carrying on this tradition at Belmont,” Fox said.

At the beginning of each school year, O’More’s senior fashion design students research and create an entire fashion collection as their capstone project, beginning with a thesis.

At the end of the school year, each collection is judged by design professionals for a grade before the fashion show.

“The show is kind of like the cherry on top,” Fox said. “It’s an opportunity to show off.”

One student, Sydney Duncan, explored the concepts behind traditional views of femininity.

In her pieces, Fox said she did extensive embroidery and beadwork including a spinal cord, uterus and heart.

“These aren’t stylized, they aren’t prettied up,” she said, “but they’re so beautiful when they look that way.”

Another collection Fox pointed to is by Ashleigh Cain, a student who loves the aesthetic look of fur pieces but has an affinity for environmental causes.

To get around the problem, Cain began collecting roadkill two years ago for her project. She skinned and tanned the hides herself, incorporating the fur into her designs.

As the tradition has grown over the years, Fox said the show has improved because of students’ motivation.

“One of the students said that the very first thing she was considering on her first day [at O’More] was what she wanted to have as her senior collection,” Fox said.

The show has been held at TPAC, War Memorial Auditorium, Jamison and Liberty Halls inside the Factory, and even at a private airplane hangar belonging to an O’More alumnus.

Last year, the show was going to be an outside show on the school’s campus, but they were forced indoors due to weather.

To have the event at the Franklin Theatre this year, Fox said, will make the setup and show, which involves professional models, lighting, and sound engineers, smoother.

The show begins at 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 10; doors open at 7 p.m., and light appetizers will be served.

Tickets are still available for the event, and all proceeds will go towards new technology for the O’More fashion program. Click here to purchase tickets from the Franklin Theatre website, or purchase through the box office.