Brandon Vessels '22 learned hands-on what it takes to conceptualize a fashion event. Photo by Emily Paine, Communications
Watching runway shows and red carpet events were my favorite things to do growing up. So it’s exciting that I’m now exploring my interests in modeling, marketing and fashion in college.
With childhood idols like Naomi Campbell, Gianni Versace and Lady Gaga, there was never any doubt that Brandon Vessels '22 would build his future around fashion.
"I've always been fascinated by the art that you could create with clothes," says the markets, innovation & design major from Bowie, Md. "What interests me most is how clothes communicate a designer's vision and emotions, and how that trickles down into what we wear every day."
At first, Vessels thought his passion would lead him to modeling (he served as captain of his high school's competitive modeling team). But when he arrived at Bucknell University, he found the opportunity to bring his own creative vision to life as a producer for the Black Student Union's annual fashion show. The show is a signature event of Black Arts Festival, a student-created showcase that uplifts black art and culture on campus.
Being a coordinator for the show allowed Vessels to infuse his personal style into runway scenes where he composed every element, from the outfits to the music to the lighting. It's the kind of work fashion directors do for luxury brands — "the way Karl Lagerfeld creates concepts for Chanel runway shows," he says.
Vessels walks the runway during the 2020 Black Arts Festival fashion show. Emily Paine, Communications
When he later took on the senior role of executive producer, Vessels got an even larger look at what it takes to conceptualize, organize and advertise a fashion event.
"I was making decisions about everything from location and staging to event promotion," he says. "It was the perfect way to apply the design and marketing concepts I'm learning in my courses while I'm here at Bucknell."
Bucknell's markets, innovations & design major — a program within the Freeman College of Management — equips students to break into the business world with a tool belt full of creative consumer marketing and brand management skills. Vessels hopes to someday take those skills abroad to Milan, where he can gain hands-on experience in the fashion industry through one of Bucknell's partner programs.
It's a major step in the journey toward his ultimate goal of working as a creative director for a fashion house or style magazine. The ability to pursue his passion around the globe is one of the things Vessels says he loves most.
"New York, Los Angeles, Milan, Paris — you can go anywhere with fashion," he says. "It's a global industry where things are always changing. There are new trends every week. I love that it keeps me on my toes."