U students create new fashions for annual show

Max Rust

Although Minneapolis might not be a mecca for fashion, nine new lines of clothing lit up the University campus this weekend, all creations spun by students.
Nine senior clothing design students showed off the results of a year’s worth of hard work, innovative ideas and fashion know-how Saturday night at Northrop Memorial Auditorium during the Minnesota Clothing Design Club’s 30th annual fashion exhibition.
The reason why the designers put on the show was two-fold; they not only brought their original concepts from paper drawings to actual garments on the bodies of models, but they also had a chance to gain recognition from professionals in the industry. The show, which displayed an eclectic array of clothing style invention, reflected the students’ drive to become part of the clothing design industry, a field many say is one of the most difficult in which to achieve success.
Show chairwoman and former University clothing design major Pamela Anderson said the idea behind the annual event is to give the designers real-world experience. “It’s about constructing a clothing line from the first glimmer of a thought to the finished product,” she said.
She also explained how the show introduces students to the not-so-glamorous side of clothing design. “They learn all about the stress in this industry. It’s very fast-paced. You have to be on the ball,” Anderson said.
Designers featured in the show appreciated the opportunities it presented for them to exhibit their work.
“It’s a chance to see how a show is run and to get good experience creating a line that all goes together,” said Brenda Bushinski, a designer in the show.
The design students began working on their lines in September while enrolled in a class called Studio Clothing Design Four. The students penciled their initial concepts on paper then constructed patterns and used a cheap fabric called muslin to drape a mock version of their design over mannequins.
After the muslin version was completed, the designers purchased the materials necessary to bring life to the creation, including various types of fabric and other accessories.
“I easily spent $1,000,” said designer Anne Dirksen of the costs, which came out of the students’ own pocketbooks.
And each artist was required to develop a minimum of five pieces.
“(The collection) evolves,” explained Dirksen, whose line was based on fashions from 1913. “Half the stuff that people had at the beginning has completely changed.”
The designers were free to create whatever style they wanted during the process but had to have a theme running through their collection. Themes in this year’s show were exhibited in styles ranging from dark, leather military apparel to jazzy, blue-mood evening wear to futuristic, robo-tronic dance club fare.
One of the most important decisions made by the designers was the choice of their models.
“They need to be able to show the clothes,” said designer Natalie Dillon. Dillon’s line of evening wear was inspired by historical Greek fashions. She said she thought the most important asset of her designs is quality construction.
Like other designers in the show, Dillon used models which represented “real” people.
“I didn’t go for the real skinny supermodel, skin-and-bones type deal because I think it’s important to appeal to the average person,” Dillon said.
This idea of “real” was echoed by Bushinski. “If all you look at is models with exactly the same figure in every single photo, everyone thinks they have to look like that. I think that’s disgusting. It’s important to use real people.”
Karen LaBat, who is the co-chairwoman of the University clothing design program explained why the typical fashion model stands rather tall and thin. “Part of it is seeing that tall, skinny person as a clothes rack, showing the clothes,” she said. “But it certainly doesn’t represent 90 percent of the women out there.”
Laurie Schafer, who was in the show as a designer in 1981, was on hand Saturday night. She now operates her own wearable art business called Body Geometry in Edina and has had shows of her own all over the world.
She said there have been many changes to the show in 16 years. “It’s a lot more innovative now. And more individualistic. I think Ms. (Homa Amir) Fazli (the course instructor) has really let people bring their own personality into it. There are plenty of conservative fashion designers out there. You always need something more innovative.”