One of the design students roaming about the Frank Erwin Center halls this week should know her way around the building better than the rest. Gioia Caponera, a junior design student and Vice President of Production for University Fashion Group, also works as an administrative assistant for the Frank Erwin Center. She has been helping plan The UT Fashion Show, which kicks off tonight at 7 p.m. and has been hosted at the Frank Erwin Center since 1998.
For two years, Caponera has been part of University Fashion Group, which consists of over 200 student members and manages the UT Fashion Show. The entire event is student led and student planned. “I’m excited for the entire production. I will be backstage most of the show but I can’t wait to see the show come together.”
Caponera has been passionate about design since she was nine years old. “I started sketching because I didn’t have a sewing machine. I learned to sew when I got to UT. My mom put me in some art classes because she knew how much I was interested in that and that manifested in a a real love for art that I never want to let go of.”
This year’s fashion show, “Synthesis,” includes 120 individual pieces from The University of Texas’ senior design students, as well as a pre-show showcase dedicated to textile, merchandising and design work from UT juniors. Caponera’s work will be part of the pre-show, which includes the work of 20 junior students, 10 of which will be selected for the runway.
Caponera started her part-time position at the Frank Erwin Center in January and says it has helped her be a liaison for the group as they coordinated this year’s event with Frank Erwin Center staff.
“Being physically here and part of this amazing family at Erwin Center has helped a lot. I’ve gotten to know the event staff and they’re so helpful… it’s exciting to be able to use this space. Some of our group came here and walked around backstage for the first time and were all taking Snapchats since the basketball court was down. They were excited.”
In the last 18 years, the annual fashion show has grown from an audience of 500 in 1997 to over 5,000 in 2016.
“The purpose of the event is really to showcase the 22 senior designs. The designers choose one piece of active wear, one evening or bridal, three collection pieces and one item for the Co-op Challenge,” Caponera explains.
The University Co-op is this year’s sponsor and the most marketable piece from the Co-op Challenge will be selected for one of the many awards associated with the fashion show.
“The event has really grown. It’s even broadcast on the Longhorn Network and we’ve started working with modeling agencies. It’s a huge outlet for senior designers. Alumni attend and this year we will have students from Reagan High School attending,” adds Caponera.
“Synthesis”, the UT Fashion Show presented by the University Co-op, begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, with a pre-show beginning at 5:30 p.m. Admission is free. The event will be broadcast live at 7:30 p.m. on the Longhorn Network (LHN).
Visit the Frank Erwin Center website to see who's coming, and subscribe to Be the First to Know to get a jump on upcoming pre-sales and ticket giveaways.