A New Stage: Fashion Designers and Artists Exhibit Their Work at the Maven Society

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The Maven Society brought fantasy to life at its Friday event, a movie-themed parade from producer George Lucas, The labyrinth, and featuring Cornell designers. The artist collective has held pop-ups, auctions and similar gallery events since its founding in spring 2020.

The event took place at the New Park Event Venue and Suites, where viewers could dine and view canvases on the walls. Upon entering the event, a large white tent hosted a track in the center, with artwork on the walls and a DJ booth to the side.

Maven is hosting events for the next generation of Cornell artists, Maven CEO Ravi Patel ’22 said. According to Patel, the society aims to bring students of different art forms and backgrounds together at Cornell.

The idea for the company came to life at the end of Patel’s second year, inspired by two visits to an empty New York art gallery and a historic café in Paris, Café de Flore.

“I was able to visit a cafe – that place where Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Salvador Dali, everyone got together and shared ideas in a social setting, sharing drinks and stories,” Patel said.

Patel saw the potential to create a social space for the art world at Cornell, inspired by this story.

“I wanted to create something for people to come together and share ideas similar to Hemingway’s cafe,” he said. “But also, I think there’s no better conversation starter than a really cool piece of art.”

Patel said every Maven Society event starts with choosing a theme. Then the company posts a Google form to accept submissions, reaching out on Instagram to Cornell artists from many mediums, such as oil paints, pastels, charcoals and sketches. From there, Maven plans transportation, venue, food, and beverages.

“We seek to bring different art mediums,” Patel said. “Each event we tried to bring in a new art medium, whether through fashion or music.”

The mission of the Maven Society described by Patel – to create a community of young art lovers and foster a platform for unknown and emerging artists – progressed at their 220-person event.

For last weekend’s event, Maven partnered with the Cornell Fashion Collective, which provides space and resources for students new to the fashion industry and hosts an annual fashion show, according to the president of the CFC, Cardinal Robinson ’23. He said he appreciated the opportunity to pursue these goals and showcase his work with Maven.

Since COVID-19 restrictions canceled CFC’s Spring 2020 and 2021 fashion shows, Maven’s stage was the first to show Robinson’s work.

“There aren’t a lot of spaces – especially in Ithaca, especially for designers – to showcase work to a wider audience besides Instagram, and it doesn’t have the same effect at all” , Robinson said.

Robinson originally created her see-through dress, presented by Maven, for the canceled CFC 2020 show, themed “Modern Royalty.” For Robinson, royalty today is one that thrives in a world of likes and comments, like the Kardashians. The see-through dress features commentary on social media, body image, and fashion culture.

The in-person event, according to Robinson, berates the “hyper image-centric world of social media.” Her dress intends to reveal the true shape of the body, celebrating the humanity of her model.

“Everything I do is limited to the canvas of the human form,” Robinson said. “That’s fashion. It is an expression of who you are. It’s not just the clothes. »

Drew Brown ’25, who is also studying fashion at the College of Human Ecology, enjoyed how the Maven event broadened the audience for her fashion designs.

Maven charges attendees for tickets to fund the venue and pay participating artists. Brown said CFC artists spent their own money on fabrics and materials, so he appreciated being paid for his work.

Designer Maisie McDonald ’23 made her dress for a draping class and spent about 60 hours in it. She currently runs an Instagram fashion brand, MODLOP.

“I would love to have my own fashion label one day,” McDonald said. “Maven gave me the opportunity to have my first fashion show to exhibit my work, and it allows me to show it to a group of people I wouldn’t normally be exposed to.”

Walking between painter and designer, Montse Longoria ’22 presented denim jackets with quotes and designs painted on them. In high school, Longoria began painting and selling her designs in her hometown.

“I think Maven gave me that confidence to go even further,” she said.

Longoria said she paints the things she feels for others to relate to. One of his jackets displays teeth and the words “I don’t know” at the end of both sleeves.

“I don’t know what I’m doing, and that’s okay. It’s good, and I’m going to express it, ”she said.

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