Talking fashion: Susan & Ric Petry on the 2019 CCAD Fashion Show & more

When it came to choosing co-chairs for the 2019 CCAD Fashion Show on Friday, May 10, we didn’t have to look far. This year’s co-chairs are CCAD Director of Graduate Studies, Ric Petry, and his wife, Susan.

These two are standouts in the arts world: Ric Petry, a photographer by training, is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, three Ohio Arts Council Fellowships, and a Greater Columbus Arts Council Individual Artist Grant. CCAD’s first Director of Graduate Studies, Petry is set to retire from CCAD this spring after more than 35 years at the college. For her part, Susan Petry is an accomplished dancer, choreographer, and professor who spent a decade running her own company, the Columbus-based Van Pelt Dance Ensemble, and has received grants, fellowships, and residencies from the Ohio Arts Council, Greater Columbus Arts Council, the Astral Foundation, and the Headlands Center for the Arts.

Here, the stylish couple discusses fashion, the arts, and the most fashionable fundraiser of the year—the 2019 CCAD Fashion Show.


ric and susan petry

Why did you want to get involved with the CCAD Fashion Show?

Ric Petry: It’s fun and a great event for the college. It’s an honor to be involved.

Susan Petry: With this being Ric’s last year, I wanted to help celebrate with and for him at CCAD. Plus, I love clothes.

Ric, how many CCAD Fashion Shows have you attended?

Ric Petry: I’ve been at CCAD for 38 years, but fashion shows weren’t held for many of those early years. I definitely remember shows in the multipurpose room of Kinney Hall, when it was V Hall—that would have been in the 90s, I think. I use to take Susan to the shows when they were held at The Limited. And, of course, the shows held in Canzani Auditorium. I guess I would say, maybe, 15 over the years.

Susan, you've been involved with dance for decades. Can you talk about the intersection of dance and fashion?

Susan Petry: I suppose with both dance and fashion, the body becomes the subject and the object, in a way. In dance, we watch the movement, but we are watching a person doing the movement. In fashion, we see the clothing, but we also see the person wearing the clothing, or, in the case of a fashion show, I think we imagine ourselves wearing what we see. Perhaps some of the “fun” of a dance show or fashion show is the subtle way audiences get to “try things on” their own body using their imagination (a muscle that loves to get exercise).

Why is fashion important?

Ric Petry: Clothes are more than something to wear. Sorting tribes, having fun, hiding, showing off, fashion is our personal architecture. It protects and reveals our bodies, our desires, our identity, our hopes and dreams.

Susan Petry: Ric says it all! One of our favorite books is The Importance of Wearing Clothes by Lawrence Langner—it’s a period piece with negligible scholarly claims, but the notion of how people denote all kinds of cultural and social cues just by wearing clothes is the art of fashion.

How would you describe your own fashion sensibilities?

Ric Petry: Prosaic with flourishes of fun.

Susan Petry: Unconventional, with an eye to pattern and line, not afraid of color or vintage, but happy in gray sweats, too.

Ric, in addition to highlighting emerging fashion, the CCAD Fashion Show supports student scholarships. Why is this so important?

Ric Petry: Scholarships are the lifeblood of CCAD. Without that help it would be impossible for many of our most talented student to attend the college and for CCAD to provide the instruction and facilities essential for a professional arts education.

What are you going to wear?

Ric Petry: Something fabulous yet humble, like me.

Susan Petry: Either a vintage bright green Thai silk gown by British designer Robert Dorlandit was my mother’s, from the 1960sor an Adrianna Papell cocktail dress. But with this being such a special event, I might have to find something I haven’t worn before!

ric and susan petry

The 2019 CCAD Fashion Show returns to the newly renovated campus of Columbus College of Art & Design on Friday, May 10. Don’t miss seeing work from CCAD’s best Fashion Design students, all while supporting CCAD student scholarships.


Learn more about the 2019 CCAD Fashion Show and buy your tickets today!