Archivists hard at work in Special Collections have unearthed a fascinating video of “ArtWear ’83,” the 4th annual juried fashion exhibition put on by fashion design students at North Texas State University. Those of us who grew up in the 1980s will enjoy flashbacks to the hot fashions of our youth (can you say …shoulder pads?). Project Runway fans should appreciate the time and effort involved in conceptualizing and designing an entire clothing line within a short time frame and then seeing those months of hard work walk down the runway on professional models.
ArtWear is the annual juried exhibition for exhibiting graduating senior student work in the Fashion Design program at UNT. The first ArtWear show was held at Papagayo, a disco club in Dallas on May 3rd, 1980, with help from art faculty members Betty Marzan and Henry Swartzand, and the annual event is still being held today. Artwear ‘80 was a significant show because it was the first time the senior fashion design show was held off campus, increasing its notoriety and stressing it as a professionalization exercise for the students involved. Fine line graphics, a studio operated by UNT Art students, came up with the Artwear name and logo for the 1980 show, and designed the tickets, promotional materials, and event advertising.
For over 30 years, this event has introduced students to many aspects of Dallas’s bustling fashion industry. In many years, students’ designs were displayed by professional models who donated their time in support of the event. The garments were then juried by industry professionals. Judges were often established fashion designers, retailers, and manufacturers. Noted American fashion designer Todd Oldham was one of the judges for the 5th annual show, Artwear ‘84, along with Eric Kimmel, notorious fashion bad boy and past-editor of the avant-garde fashion magazine Haute. For many of the exhibitions, submitted designs were required to be completely original, and students couldn’t use commercial patterns. Some students went so far as to print their own fabrics. Each student prepared between 8 and 15 fashions for the show.