May 24, 2023
Brown Blends Engineering & Creativity in Phipps Fashion Project
Rising junior Chloe Brown is mixing their engineering and creative interests in an exciting project for Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Brown is working alongside CMU drama students to design a costume that will be displayed in the conservatory’s gardens.
“The group designed a transparent, androgynous suit with faux fungi growing off of it. The fungi is made using fabric manipulation and textile arts like crochet and knitting,” Brown says.
Brown, who is studying Civil Engineering and minoring in Drama, says that they learned about the design project in Fundamentals of Costume Design class.
“Throughout my life, I have always been very artistic. I feel like the natural skills I have from that—combined with the project management skills I have gained from my first few semesters as a Civil Engineering student—are aiding me tremendously in working on this costume.”
Brown mentions that CMU is a very supportive environment that allows students to study across subject areas. The Phipps project reinforced the value and opportunities presented through interdisciplinary learning.
“The best parts of this project are the times that my group has come together to build the costume on our mannequin. It's so exciting seeing all the various pieces we have separately made combined into a lively costume that brings our vision to life.”
The project hasn’t been without surprises. Brown notes that during the first build session, they improvised while working with the faux fungi.
“At some point, I just started playing around with draping the fabric and before I knew it, there was a train and it actually looked really cool.” They were complimented by the group’s mentor—which was gratifying because Brown hadn’t ever worked on draping before.
Brown’s collaborative effort will be on display at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens as part of the Flowers Meet Fashion: Inspired by Billy Porter (A ‘19) exhibit, showcasing stunning horticultural displays and fashion designs inspired by the local and remarkable achievements of the award-winning actor, singer, director, composer, and playwright, until June 25.