During her past four years at the University, Emily Coleman, an Art and Design senior, hasn’t experienced the nuts-and-bolts kind of training available at fashion powerhouses like FIT or Parsons. Incidentally, the University’s School of Art and Design doesn’t offer a concentration specifically in fashion design.

Christina Choi
Emily Coleman amid her fruits of labor (ALLISON GHAMAN/Daily)

But Coleman has learned a thing or two about fashion’s role in society – though she sometimes had to leave Ann Arbor to do it. After each academic year, Coleman supplemented her art-school studies with more hands-on, business-oriented training by taking summer classes at schools with strong fashion-design curricula.

Coleman said the work has “allowed (her) to gain a better understanding of how art and fashion function in society.”

The way she speaks about the real-world power of fashion, however, belies her education at a liberal arts institution like the University.

“Fashion, as a capitalist enterprise, is directly influenced by the political, cultural and economic climate of present day society – and vice versa,” Coleman said. She said fashion is a universal language that challenges and comments on current social thought.

“Most of the work I have done has been more conceptually based,” she said.

For her recently finished senior thesis, Coleman created a collection of what she referred to as “transformable garments” that deal with fear, protection and vulnerability. If it’s not exactly what you’d expect from new fashion, understand that Coleman’s collection, “Perception Management,” was initially a product of her thoughts on the “ways the current U.S. government uses fear as a means of manipulation and control.”

After graduation, Coleman plans to move to New York to pursue her dream as a high-fashion designer.

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