Full Fashion Panic features looks inspired by cosplay, Japanese culture, steampunk fashions

Full Fashion Panic features looks inspired by cosplay, Japanese culture, steampunk fashions
Design by Samantha Rei, photo by

To kick off Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits (SGMS), a three-day academic conference exploring anime and manga at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), eight local designers will showcase collections based on Lolita, steampunk, cosplay, and Japanese street fashion. The evening also serves as the final runway event of Minneapolis-St. Paul Fashion Week.

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Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits started when students at the school began requesting classes in anime and manga because no courses were available. Professor Frenchy Lunning and her colleague Barbara Schulz decided to see if there was any interest in a one-day, informal anime and manga presentation. Although Lunning didn't think that any academics would sign on to participate, she reached out to seven individuals from across the country. To her surprise, all expressed an interest in presenting.

The first event was originally scheduled for September 13, 2001, but plans quickly changed after flights were grounded following September 11. Lunning worked to reschedule the event for November, and the response from attendees was very positive.

"The event was so popular and so much fun and so compelling that even the academics that I brought in said I had to do it again," Lunning says. "There are lots of anime conventions across the country, but none that are academic. For those of us who are interested in this topic, it's so exciting and so fun."

They decided to host an annual event in September, and two years ago decided to make SGMS an academic conference. This year's events includes a lecture by world-famous anime screenwriter Dai Sato, breakout sessions featuring undergraduate papers, an academic session, anime screenings, and the Full Fashion Panic runway show.

Full Fashion Panic features looks inspired by cosplay, Japanese culture, steampunk fashions
Design by Deborah Block, photo by

Full Fashion Panic, produced by Lunning and directed by Samantha Rei of Blasphemina's Closet, allows people to see what Lolita, steampunk, cosplay, and Japanese street fashion is all about.

Tara Reich, a graduate of Columbia College in Chicago, says that she has been designing "nerd fashion" for the past 10 years. It started for her after she went to a convention where people dressed up, and decided to challenge herself to try something new. Her designs are "geek and media inspired" with references to science fiction, Japanese fashion, cosplay, and vintage.

"Going to school for fashion design helped me to edit my garments so they wouldn't necessarily be costumes, they would be wearable fashion," Reich says.

Reich participated in Full Fashion Panic two years ago, creating 10 looks based on Doctor Who. This year, Reich's collection will take inspiration from a new source.

"My collection is inspired by Neon Genesis Evangelion, a Japanese animation series that is inspired by schoolgirls and mobilesuits. I thought it would be fun to have this collection at this particular show," Reich says.

Full Fashion Panic allows both experienced and up-and-coming designers to showcase their work, exposing people to a new side of fashion.

Full Fashion Panic features looks inspired by cosplay, Japanese culture, steampunk fashions
Design by Samantha Rei, photo by

"It's not your normal fashion show; it's a different take on fashion that a lot of people don't see," Reich says. "You'll see a lot of younger designers that don't really get a chance to show their work off at other places. Because the designers are younger, there's a lot more risk taking. You'll see a little of everything. Every designer has their own view, so you never know what's going to come out next on the runway."

Participating designers include Lauren Peyton, Jason Axness/Cindee Brown, Deborah Block, Kayley Johnson, Lisa Rosenberg, Brianna Westlund, and Tara Reich.

Lunning encourages all people to come and check out SGMS and Full Fashion Panic.

"If you think this just for college students or for academics, that is not the case," Lunning says. "If you watch Cartoon Network or if you're interested in animation or comic books, a lot of these things are covered at SGMS. If you want a weekend that's really fun and you want to meet people from all walks of life, come join us. It's a very diverse crowd."


Full Fashion Panic
7:30-10 p.m. Saturday, September 29
Minneapolis College of Art & Design
2501 Stevens Ave. S., Minneapolis
Tickets are $15.00 in advance; $20 at the door
To register for Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits, click here

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MCAD Gallery

2501 Stevens Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55404


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