Kramped Style

By Emily Gold Boutilier / May / June 2002
June 30th, 2007
It is 7 p.m. backstage at the Kevin Kramp fashion show. In a mere hour and a half, twenty-seven students - the women in skimpy strapless dresses and the men in flared pants and form-fitting shirts - will strut down a second-floor hallway in List Art Center that tonight has been transformed into a high-style catwalk.

For now, though, Kramp '02 wants to bask in the pre-show excitement. But first he needs to address a crisis: a model has backed out. Thankfully she's offered her roommate as a stand-in, but the new model, Rebecca Dhouni '02, is too small for the dress, a sexy number in layers of turquoise satin, pink organza, and green tulle. Kramp needs to get to his sewing machine. Quickly.

So with no time to spare, Kramp, a slight man with strawberry-blond hair, races to his Amy Street apartment. The models are still in their street clothes. "It's a stereotypical hectic mess," Kramp says when he returns a half-hour later, dress in hand.

But Kramp, who dreams of being head designer of a major fashion house, is surprisingly cool. He's been dreaming of this night for a long time. A year ago, inspired by a Versace collection, the visual-arts concentrator applied for a grant from the Brown Creative Arts Council to create a collection of his own. He went home to Minnesota last summer, purchased yards of colorful fabric at a half-price sale, then devoted eight hours a day to designing and sewing. "The show was playing through my mind every day," he says.

Tonight his strapless dresses have rips and tears to expose their three layers, each of which is a different color. The dresses have raw hems whose threads hang above the knee in some styles and which are just short of obscene in others. "It's short!" declares model Jocelyn Moore '03, who will wear a minidress in orange satin, turquoise organza, and hot pink tulle. "Very cute," she adds, "but I don't think I'd ever be able to wear it."

The men will pair satin, organza, and tulle shirts with pants in black denim or snakeskin-printed pleather. As "breathers" from the colorful three-layer pieces, students will also model a strapless dress in white muslin, a tan A-line coat, white cotton shirts with exposed seams, and a cow-print faux-fur jacket with a red-and-white checkerboard lining.

Kramp opens the garment bags at 8 p.m. Twenty-five minutes later the doors open. "It's packed," an usher tells the designer. In fact, it's standing room only. Two hundred people sit along the hall, and more wait downstairs. At 8:30 Kramp makes a quick decision: "I would like to do an encore performance of the show immediately following," he announces to the models. "Is that a problem for anyone?"

The models burst into applause. Kramp's eyes are moist. "That," he says later, "was the most meaningful moment of the night for me."

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Related Issue
May / June 2002