UMass ‘Born This Way’ fashion show leaves audience members stunned

The UMass Fashion Organization sold out their highly anticipated show and surpassed expectations with two highlighted collections


Photo by Jamison Wrinn, Instagram: @jamisonwrinn

By Samourra Rene, Staff Writer

Creativity is freedom. This message was expressed not just with the variety of styles at the “Born This Way” fashion show at the University of Massachusetts, but with the thoughts of the supportive attendees. Hundreds of guests joined the fashion show on Thursday evening.

Xavier Neil, a sophomore journalism major, stated the significance of the show for him was to support “the creativity of students.” Nicholas Green, a junior political science major and long-time member of the UMass Fashion Organization, resonated with that same sentiment. Green values creativity and expression, which is why he created a sustainable jewelry line called 2001 by Amour and promoted it at the fashion show.

She is bringing glamor back! The “Born This Way” Fashion Show started off with the Dressed in Black Collection: an array of chic and alluring all-black outfits fit for a Hollywood red carpet. The collection was styled by the president of the UMass Fashion Organization (UFO) and coordinator of the fashion show Chinyere “Chi Chi” Ogala. This collection illustrated the versatility of the color black and how the range of a stylist’s visionary eye can alter the ambience of each look within the collection with just the color black. Black can be edgy, feminine, preppy and classic; Ogala styled each look with their own invigorating aura that emphasized one resounding collective message: Black is Beautiful.

The model to the far left could be transported to any vintage rock music video or a 90’s Thierry Mugler runway show and not miss a beat, blending in with the background dangers or strutting with other high-fashion models. The leather bodice and spiked skirt of her dress was edge personified. The sensualness of the broad v-neckline and the detailed placing of the gold jewelry resembles the decadent and sultry signature style of couture powerhouse Versace. One lover of Versace, Elle Woods, an iconic pop culture character from “Legally Blonde,” would not only be proud of the first look, but she would adore the flirty feminine design of the second model’s look.

The model was wearing a two-for-one loo: a belted fur-lined black trench coat that was also a chic mini dress. Ogala combined this glamorous coatdress with minimal accessories including a black leather handbag, retro shades and a gold layered necklace. The classically-feminine look contrasted with the next look that pushed the boundary of gender conformity. The male model gleamed in a shimmery see-through black long-sleeved top and a floor-length tartan kilt skirt. The fashion show was the definition of diverse and included models across different races, clothing sizes and genders. The show lived up to its name “Born This Way,” exemplifying that no one individual’s style is bonded and limited by societal expectations.

The second look from the right in the second row was another rockstar-worthy ensemble that illustrated the creativity of Ogala. The structured mini blazer dress was elevated with a black fascinator hat and brilliant gold accessories—a gold fringe tassel belt, elongated tassel earrings and a shimmering shoulder brooch.

After the first collection, one could scan the room, look at the shocked expressions and hear the gasps of awe from the audience. Sheila Sawyer, a junior English and social thought and political economy major, expressed the common shared feeling that the fashion show “was incredible and blew expectations away.”


Photo by Jamison Wrinn, Instagram: @jamisonwrinn

Ogala’s talent for styling was brightly illuminated with her second curated collection, Color Theory, styled by her. One model appeared in an ensemble that even Gen-Z style icon Maddy from Euphoria would envy—a chartreuse-green silk jacket alongside fur details, a strapless lilac cutout bodice and a metallic blue skirt top with a pearl pendant necklace. The subdued color scheme and the experimental mix-match look created a magnetizing mien that glues the audience’s eyes to the outfit.

If you were to build a time machine, bring back a wild-west cowboy to the 21st century and have him fall in love with a 90’s pop girl band member, their early 2000’s love child would embody the fourth model to the left. Her cowboy father would be proud of her loose denim jeans and wide belt buckle perfectly fit for the rodeo, while her fabulous mom would look fondly at her sparkly pink velvet halter crisscross-cut crop top that matched with the shimmering of her pink belt and clear aviator sunglasses.

The collection continued to be decked out in accessories galore, as the next model donned a bold royal blue fur hat and a red corset belt. The standard rules of fashion maintain that an outfit should be kept to one bold statement element, and that the mother of all color clashes is pink and red; the “Born This Way” fashion show demonstrated that rules were born to be broken, as the stylist broke both laws effortlessly—all elements of the outfit were bold, including a stunning abstract art-inspired midi dress. The pink dress and red corset dress worked wonderfully together despite the similarities in color due to the various intensities in the shades. The red corset belt was a deep rouge hue with a high color intensity, while the pink is a subdued, muted shade. Ogala showed off her wonderful sense of color theory, making her Color Theory collection even more perfect. She tastefully broke tradition, confidently standing in her vision and making her style not only intriguing, but inspiring.

Each outfit of the fashion show was stellar and unique enough to be a standout addition for a New York Fashion Week street style Pinterest board—and the next look was no different. The first male model shown was potentially the closest look the world will ever get to a Parisian gentleman stepping into a children’s picture book. The Parisian gentleman traded in the sophistication of an all-black relaxed-fit menswear suit for the whimsicalness of a colorful wide-striped top and jade-green linen pants. The French dapperness and elegance still shone through with a red beret hat and mustard yellow head scarf.

While the audience got to enjoy the fabulousness of unique looks, the background process to make the fashion show was anything but glamour. The UFO had a monumental sequence of pushbacks such as cancellations and delays that created stress amongst the team. Ogala shared that “despite the obstacles we faced, our perseverance and love for fashion led us to a successful end. It is so crazy to think that this club started because I wanted a fashion style flash mob and now we are selling out shows.”

Ogala also expressed gratitude for the team that helped her along the way, especially her Vice-President Isargy De La Cruz. She cannot wait to see what President Nikita Starr will do with the club in the future and has “no doubt that the next fashion show will be even bigger and better.”

The UFO invites new members to join their club on Wednesday, Feb. 23, at the Herter Hall Auditorium.

Samourra Rene can be contacted at [email protected]