Design students

by Jeffrey Hujet

After bubble-wrap, window screens and foam weatherstripping are used, they usually end up at the bottom of a garbage can.
But to Professor Elizabeth Bye’s clothing design studio, these materials all represent potential fashion.
For Bye’s Clothing Design: Studio 3 class, students create clothing made entirely from recycled materials. However, what those materials were and where they came from are entirely at the students’ discretion.
Brandon Wong, a junior clothing design major, had a unique method of acquiring materials for his piece.
“I just ran around McNeal Hall grabbing big garbage bags,” he said. Wong created a dress with a cascading electrical wire and a copper hoop placed between two layers of clear plastic.
He described the dress as having a “futuristic quality,” adding that it was an attempt to fuse the cultures of fashion and music.
“I really wanted to see a more synthetic look,” Wong said. “That’s basically what techno music or electronica is.”
Bye said the purpose of the project was to focus on the material structure of clothing by developing skills and building structure for the human body, while at the same time remaining comfortable.
“They (the students) have a basic understanding of working with traditional fabrics,” Bye said. “If we introduce materials that are harder, softer or can’t be stitched, it presents a whole new set of problem-solving opportunities.”
The class, which is offered through the University’s Department of Design, Housing and Apparel, also has a strong base in human ecology.
“We’re always designing with a consumer in mind, asking, ‘Who’s going to wear this?'” she said.
For inspiration Bye brought in Minneapolis fabric artist D.J. Graman. A nationally renowned artist, Graman has created costumes for ballet and theater performances across the country, as well as for such shows as Nickelodeon’s “Allegra’s Window” and Jim Henson Productions’ “Sesame Street on Ice.”
Graman, who has also done costume design locally for the Guthrie Theater, talked to the class about his experiences and motivations as an artist.
Bye said the students could learn from his example and experience because “he presents an alternative perspective to clothing design.”
Having an alternative perspective provided the theme for the project, as students were forced to look at everything as potential clothing material.
Lyndsie Hakala, a junior clothing design major, was inspired by a burgeoning hobby in photography. She created a dress made from the negatives of pictures from her friends’ trips to Europe, which were illuminated by a light placed within the dress.
“It’s basically an agglomeration of all my friends’ memories,” she said. Hakala was also inspired by Graman, who made her think about what clothing actually represents and how many people often pass judgment based simply on what another person is wearing.
“I don’t know how (personality) can be analyzed by a physical medium,” Hakala said. “You can’t show true beauty through an outside appearance.”