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MICA students showcase activism, sustainability, diversity and more at annual Benefit Fashion Show 'Catalyst'

BALTIMORE — The Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) presents Catalyst, the 26th Annual Benefit Fashion Show, a runway-style showcase of student-designed fashion that will take place at 9 p.m. Friday, April 12 and at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 13 in Falvey Hall in MICA’s Brown Center, 1301 W. Mount Royal Ave.

After a quarter of a century, the MICA Annual Benefit Fashion Show has entered a new era: fashion in the age of innovation. The show highlights designers who are evolving beyond self-serving behavior to active consciousness, who are forward thinking and record this change through their garments and designs. Throughout history, fashion has marked societal, political, economic and technological development — even the Annual Benefit Fashion Show was established to create and celebrate growth in the diversity within MICA.

This year, each of the collections will mark its own history. Through a minimum of eight to twelve full looks, designers have created an innovative collection that speaks to class, activism, sustainability, politics, technology, diversity or other current themes that will be an impetus for change.

Organized by director Lauren Jackson ’20 (BFA Printmaking), "Catalyst" features 15 individual fashion lines created by 18 designers.

Select fashion lines include:

  • "Wild Seed" by Amir Khadar, which is an AfroFuturist fashion collection, named after the book by Octavia Butler. The line takes place in an alternate reality where black femininity is widely respected as divine.

  • "Reveal and Reclaim" by Cristy Rodriguez, which introduces snippets of biographies and historical traditions pertaining to the hair of women of color. These wearables explore the need for cultural awareness and liberation on a global scale.

  • "Beautiful Struggle" by Hannah Ahn and Yuchae Lee raises awareness of what language can encapsulate and reminds the audience to appreciate their connections to language. It challenges viewers to re-examine what is inscribed in their language and how personality and expression can be radically transformed when translated into another language.

  • "Parade" by Sam Zanowski considers the dangers of nationalism and celebration without critique within America.

Full artist statements and details about individual designs are available at

Sponsored by MICA’s Center for Identity and Inclusion, the Annual Benefit Fashion Show raises money for the College’s diversity programming and scholarly initiatives for students.

"I am so excited for this year's show, it's been a dream of mine to direct this show since my first year here at MICA. With the theme this year, we really wanted to push designers to think about how fashion and garments can precipitate dialogue or change that we need in our current community," Jackson said. "Especially with the current events that have happened on campus with the Blackives exhibition and Take Back the Steps, and acknowledging our institution's past, I think this show is important. In order to make the changes we want to see, we have to start somewhere. If we won't do something, who will?"

Celebrity photographer Derek Blanks ’00 (Illustration) worked with students to organize a professional fashion shoot for the show’s lookbook, and his photographs of the student designs will be on display in the Brown Center lobby during the show.

Tickets are available in person at the MICA Store or online at On Friday, tickets are $7 for students, $12 for staff and $20 for general admission. On Sunday, tickets are $15 for students and $20 for general admission.

On Saturday, there will be a pop-up show made up of work of artisans. The items sold will include work that appears in the show, artisan jewelry, handmade fashion bags, fashion photography prints and more.

Participating designers include Amir Khadar, Anthony Chukwu, Chance Mason, Cristy Rodriguez, Daisy Braun, Dasha Burobina, Hannah Ahn, Yuchae Lee, Hannah Moog, Kristen Tapia, Joy Li, Max Cortes, Patricia Chevez, Pei Jung Ho, Reuben Francois, Saloni Shah, Gianna Chun and Sam Zanowski.