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Project Runway: PNCA students move fashion forward

by Linda Lenhoff,

PNCA 3D Design students turned trash into wearable treasures recently in the annual Cardboard Couture challenge.

Students modeling cardboardEach student had to craft a garment using only cardboard — no glue, tape, staples, or decorations. The students then came together to walk the red carpet and show off their cunning couture — and take a bow. 

Associate Professor and Head of Sculpture David Eckard created this catwalk of creative expression about 15 years ago, limiting students to cardboard to design — and hold together — their attire.

Students modeling cardboard“Not being able to use adhesives or any mechanical fastening beyond what can be imagined or made with the cardboard offers up a great challenge that really has no budgetary impact,” he said. “We all go through our recycling bins!” 

Eckard calls the event a rite of passage. “I always had my students do a catwalk moment just to build confidence, community, and to have a great deal of fun,” he said. “I truly believe it unifies that class group and connects them socially and creatively.” 

Students modeling cardboardPainting major Kadi Prue ’26 dove into the challenge.

“This project was definitely tricky to figure out,” she said. “It took a lot of planning to make sure everything would come together — and stay together.”

Prue struggled to create soft, rounded shapes. “I had to reconfigure my material and recut my pieces over and over before I figured out what would make my vision come to life.” 

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