Fashion Focus: Alum Reflects On Bowie’s Death

February 2, 2016

By Lauren Pinkston

“He was just someone that you thought was immortal, but the way he left this world was eerily beautiful,” said graduate Autumn Kapka 15’, lamenting the death of David Bowie, the widely celebrated musician and artist.

The late David Bowie passed on January 10, 2016 from liver cancer at the age of 69 and his legacy has already inspired the Dominican community. Autumn used Bowie’s music as inspiration for her senior apparel design collection featured in the 2015 Dominican illumiNATION fashion show.

Kapka shares that a traumatic experience in her life left her “feeling broken and less than human.” Shortly after the personal incident, she attended the David Bowie Is… exhibition at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art and found herself captivated by the artist.

“David Bowie’s music helped me realize that I was going to be okay and creating this collection inspired by him was the road to my healing,” said Kapka.

The annual campus fashion show gives Apparel Design seniors an opportunity to display their fashion designs. Students use a variety of sources for inspiration and create truly unique and captivating pieces.

Kapka used elaborate brocade materials, tailored suits and slender silhouettes to emulate the androgynous aspects of Bowie’s being. She also added fringe to contribute a sense of movement and vivacity. The senior collection academic advisor, McKinley Johnson, recalls Kapka’s collection as “dream-like” and inspired by inner-feelings.

“Creativity has a really important part in our lives,” said Johnson. “It helps us to navigate through experiences and so it was very important for her to see things could and would be better.”

Kapka feels she connected with Bowie because he also used traumatic life experiences to inspire a creative outlet.

“You take the good with the bad and keep on evolving,” said Kapka. “Bowie may not have actually sewn his costumes, but he was a major contributor to designing them.”

Kapka, along with other fans all over the globe, were shocked and saddened by Bowie’s death. However, this has only spawned renewed inspiration within her.

“His passing has given me a gust of wind to really get to work on a new collection,” said Kapka. “I have been sketching a new collection inspired by the content on David Bowie’s last album.”

Kapka chooses to live by the mantra: “From the ashes of something ugly, rises something beautiful.” Kapka’s latest design sketches, inspired by Bowie’s death, include a premonition of beauty.