Fashion Forward

A popular student club transforms MemChu into a runway.

May 2024

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Fashion students walking in MemChu

MODEL STUDENTS: Clockwise from left, Celeste Amadon, ’26, Catarina Rezende, ’26, Kiki Iriafen, ’24, Riya Narayan, ’26, Kirsten Lees, ’27, and Peter Zhang, Kyler Shu, and Adam Golomb, all ’27. Photos: Daniela Gomez, ’26; Samir Chowdhury, ’25; Solmih Kim, ’25; Asher Allen ’26 (2); Hannah Shu, ’27

Riya Narayan, ’26, strolled gingerly in a full-length design by Dominique Schleider, ’26, that resembled a chainmail bell. Kirsten Lees, ’27, modeled a bodysuit and shawl crafted entirely of belts. Celeste Amadon, ’26, wore a black leotard covered in spiraling metal coils, with a long, lacy veil trailing behind her. “I think of the look as ‘bride meets funeral meets cyborg space creature,’ ” Amadon said after the show. 

The three student models were among 100 who walked the red carpet in the event of the season: the FashionX runway, which drew a sold-out crowd of 1,200 to Memorial Church on February 22. For one night only, MemChu was host to bouncers and paparazzi, pulsating music, and models showing varying amounts of skin. The Marriage of Mischief and Maximalism (a wedding of “the art of subverting expectation” to “the embrace of too much”) showcased the work of 50 student designers. 

FashionX, a student club now in its fifth year, draws more than 250 students who study, design, model, and market fashion. One of this year’s co-presidents, Cole Crichton, ’24, says he has abandoned his old habit of wearing workout shorts way too often. “I think about what I want to feel like during the day,” he says. “Some days I’ll wear a suit if I want to look professional, or colors if I want to attract attention, or black if I want to lay low.”

Sigalit Perelson, ’20, MBA ’23, MPP ’23, and Savannah Murphy, ’20, MS ’21, co-founded FashionX in 2019 with the goal—like many preprofessional clubs—of hosting speakers and putting on a conference. One of their pivotal recruits that fall was then-frosh Timi Adeniyi, ’23. “Coming to Stanford and hearing about FashionX—it wasn’t ‘Let’s get dressed up and talk about our clothes,’ ” Adeniyi recalls. “Fashion is actually quite intellectual and complex.” 

‘I might wear crazy things to the office in my finance job—I did that last summer.’

Adeniyi and Kali Hough, ’22, MA ’23, ferried the club through its Zoom-only pandemic era and back onto campus, where they realized their members were tired of being talked at. They chose to make the club more project- and skills-based. These days, FashionX has nine subgroups ranging from marketing and business operations to design and merchandising, which collaborate on projects for industry partners, such as digital clothing design and fashion trend analysis, and on marquee events, including an annual flea market and the highly hyped runway. 

“Our belief is that if you have the passion and desire to design, you should have a platform to do so,” says Montanna Riggs, ’23, a master’s student in management science and engineering who co-directed this year’s runway event. And the interdisciplinary opportunities for students studying design, computer science, data science, and sustainability are palpable. “We’re not a fashion school,” says FashionX co-president Olivia Wang, ’24, “but nonetheless we have a lot to offer to the industry.”

The benefits are clearly two-way. Crichton says he’s pondering integrating fashion into his future—maybe as CFO of a fashion company someday. “And I might wear crazy things to the office in my finance job—I did that last summer.” Vincent Hao, ’22, whose designs appeared at the 2023 runway event, works as an assistant merchant at Gap Inc. and is about to start an MBA in fashion and luxury at NYU. And Adeniyi, now a private equity analyst at Alpine Investors, says she doesn’t rule out a future in fashion. “FashionX helped me understand that I can’t really live without art in my life.”

Jill Patton, ’03, MA ’04, is the senior editor of Stanford. Email her at

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