The annual event puts graduates’ designs on display.

Just days after the famed Met Gala in New York City commanded headlines for its star-studded guest list and outrageous fashion statements, Maine College of Art hosted the hotly anticipated MECAmorphosis, The Runway Fashion Show, on May 4.

“We’re so grateful to Roxanne Quimby, who made this all possible,” said Jessica Tomlinson, director of MECA’s professional development program, Artists at Work.

The sold-out event featured fierce new talent emerging from the art school’s textile and fashion design program, funded by Maine philanthropist Quimby.

“This was her idea and her wish, and her support allowed us to hit the ground running so we could be here today,” Tomlinson said.

Over 175 guests filled the Institute for Contemporary Art, located in the Porteous Building on Congress Street in Portland, for the end-of-year fashion show. As house music kept a steady beat, models strode the expansive runway with a cosmopolitan gait and composed intrigue.

Lucille Holt-Sottery of Collaborations and Malone Commercial Brokers was joined by Coffee By Design co-founder Mary Allen Lindemann, Gillian Britt of gBritt PR and Eliza Cope Knowlan of Bernstein Shur; Dan Crewe chatted with Cyrus and Patty Hagge; and Jean Gulliver, designer Jill McGowan and incoming MECA President Dr. Laura Freid were spotted in the attentive crowd.

“It’s so great to bring people together in this building,” said Stuart Kestenbaum, interim president of MECA. “It’s very energizing, to see the work these students have designed … their focus and their sense of accomplishment … it’s a very big deal.”

“The collections are amazing,” said Dr. Freid, who watched the show with awe. “I’m thrilled and so proud of everyone.”

MECAmorphosis is an annual event that celebrates the school’s graduating artists and designers, and helps to raise money for scholarship funds for its upcoming artists.

“I’m really interested in wearable technology,” said designer and recent MECA graduate Justin Desper, whose collection was modern, sophisticated and literally plugged in. One of his models donned a dress that was actually connected to her heartbeat, illuminating flashing lights as she walked the runway.

“Transhumanism was the inspiration, and it all came together. It’s just what I’ve been thinking about lately,” he said.

“I think it’s really exciting. These are students who are coming to MECA specifically for this program and this purpose,” said Tomlinson, looking radiant in a Justin Desper original. “They do this work, all four years, be passionate … and have a collection.”

Margaret Logan is a freelance writer who lives in Scarborough. She can be reached at:

[email protected]

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