Sartorial Spaces: Fashion at the Fralin

Student style on display at Final Fridays


Three girls – one dressed, of course, in maroon — stood against the wall leading to the upstairs exhibits.

Sydney Bradley | Cavalier Daily

“Where is the bean dip?” someone asked with an urgent, joking tone — disappointed that the rounded tray, about two feet wide, was not yet on the main table. 

“I feel very underdressed,” another student said, wearing gray joggers and an olive green shirt. Given the atmosphere, he was. In the main lobby of the Fralin Museum of Art were students, faculty, staff and community members dressed in a casual blend of cocktail hour and artist-chic attire. In the corner of the room was a jazz ensemble, playing just loudly enough to make you raise your voice in order to speak to the person standing next to you. 

At the end of each month, the Fralin hosts the event “Final Fridays,” highlighting the current exhibits of the museum before they change. Ruffin Hall hosts visitors as well, displaying the work of students, faculty and other artists. The event, however, is more than an invitation to visit the museum during after-hours over some wine and cheese. It is a social event to mingle in the lobby and chat with friends, a time to wear the heels that sit on that shelf in your closet that you never really wear and a place to pretend, for a moment, we are adults sipping wine and IPA beers over art, jazz and good conversation. 

In the middle of the mingling mass of visitors, a student said to her friend, “You should have worn that lipstick to match!” referring to the burgundy accents she had woven into her outfit. Burgundy, the maroon shade of red which Pantone named Marsala as the 2015 color of the year, never really went away. 

The art in the lobby of the Fralin varied in color and style, but the body of students dressed for the occasion seemed to have its own palette — shades of red, mustard yellow and elegant black. Students wore black heeled boots and booties, one was seen wearing black pumps. Accents of red lips and mustard sweaters were scattered throughout the attendees of the event. Some challenged and pushed this scheme while others embraced it. 

In the room adjacent to the front lobby, where William Wylie’s “Pompeii Archive” is on display, a female student stood dressed in a synchronized outfit of red and black. She wore a cherry red bodycon, ankle-length dress with a black sweater and black boots. Her black patched purse was delicately embroidered with red flowers and her earrings, red tassels. As she stood in front of the large black and white photographs, her look contrasted with the grayscale of the room — a sight of its own. 

Three girls — one dressed, of course, in maroon — stood against the wall leading to the upstairs exhibits. In their hands, they held their free wine and beer, talking to each other in a triangular formation. These bundles scattered across the event, groups of students talking by the art, but maybe not about it. 

Final Fridays is a space where students get to experience art and conversation over free wine and cheese. It is also a playground for performing what we students perceive as adulthood. Between the jazz ensemble and the dolled-up outfits, the experience of Final Fridays is about expressing notions of high brow and ideas about class. The only thing that could make Final Fridays more classy — and maroon — is red wine. 

Going to the Final Fridays in February? Make sure you wear red, yellow and black with a hint of glitter for the full effect. 

related stories